Redevelopment Workshop Set for Tuesday
City Council members will meet at City Hall to discuss the downtown project.
The workshop will immediately follow a goal-setting session, which is scheduled from 8:30 to 10:30 a.m. but could end early. If the session ends early, the workshop will begin early. Only the workshop will be televised live on Verizon Channel 39 and Bright House Channel 950, and it is expected to last 1.5 hours. The workshop is open to the public, however, no public comment or vote on the project will be taken.
The workshop is a result of a discussion council members had earlier this week at their regular meeting. During his remarks, City Manager Kim Leinbach said the city had received a letter dated May 25 from attorney David Smith, representing Vlass Temple Terrace, the developer working on the downtown project.
The letter, or memorandum of understanding as it’s called, outlined key issues that were discussed at a previous workshop with city council members and Vlass developers regarding commercial-versus-residential use on the first floor of the three buildings that will make up the residences. It asked council members to agree to four terms at their June 5 meeting. Those terms included that:
- Ceiling heights on the first floor of the three buildings that would make up the residential units would be 14 feet from floor to ceiling;
- Vlass would attempt to find first-floor retail tenants beginning June 1 by marketing “Main Street Commercial” in fliers and brochures, signs at the redevelopment site, qualified uses, industry events, and create a lease plan for possible tenants;
- Building permits would be obtained by Oct. 1 and buildings would be constructed in anticipation of commercial on the ground floor until Feb. 1, 2013 at which time buildings would be retrofitted to residential use;
- There is enough parking at the site.
“We heard the message loud and clear at the workshop,” Smith said at the June 5 council meeting. “This board and this community wants us to make an effort above and beyond that which has already been made with respect to obtaining commercial/retail uses in the ground floor of these buildings. Although that is not something that’s consistent with the current market and not consistent with the current financial market, we will give an extra effort as we said we would.”
Leinbach said he wanted the redevelopment project to move forward, but he didn’t think council members had had enough time to make a decision June 5.
Councilman Ron Govin agreed.
“I think there’s plenty of room to work together, but I think we’ve got to take it through steps,” he said. “I don’t believe that we can sit here and make a determination that we’re going to go forward with something—we haven’t even heard a report from our staff yet.”
He also said he wasn’t convinced that a parking study Vlass provided was sufficient.
Councilman David Pogorilich echoed Govin’s thoughts. He said he would also like to talk to city staff before moving forward.
“It’s going to take as long as it takes,” he said of the impending discussion. “You can’t make it go any faster.”
He said he thinks ceiling heights should be taller than Vlass’ proposed 14 feet and questioned Vlass’ planned marketing efforts and construction time frame.
“I just feel like you want to build residential, and you’re going to tell us what we want to hear, and at the end of the day you’re going to say, ‘See? We were right.’”