Temple Terrace residents said they wanted planned for the . The city and the developer heard them.
At a special workshop Thursday afternoon, the City Council, acting as the Temple Terrace Redevelopment Agency, and developer Vlass Temple Terrace sat at a table at to discuss how to make that request a reality in the current market.
The solution: build the first floor to commercial specifications, try to lease it, and make it residential if it can’t be leased.
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“The only question is: At what time do we have the ability to fit out that first floor to residential if it’s not leased to retail,” asked Mike Lant of the Vlass group.
The answer still has to be negotiated.
No votes were taken on the issue during the workshop, which was intended for discussion purposes only. But Mayor Joe Affronti said he saw the dialogue take a step in the right direction for Temple Terrace residents.
“I think we made a lot of progress,” he said.
It was the opposite outcome of the city’s last , which ended with the City Council denying Vlass’ proposal to construct a three-building, 214-unit apartment complex with no retail on the first floor, causing former City Councilman Ken Holloway to worry that the project and city would die as a result.
In a March 16 letter to the city, Atlanta attorney W. Daniel Hicks Jr. representing the Vlass group wrote that Inland Atlantic Development Corporation, the company that would build the residential component in question, would if the council did not favor it at its March meeting. The Vlass group would also reconsider its interest in the entire project, Hicks wrote.
But all of the drama seemed to be behind both groups as they talked about the future of the redevelopment project Thursday.
At the beginning of the discussion, Lant said the Vlass group would be willing to put retail on the first floor of the southern-most corner of the residential component, which is located near .
“Any place along there is the right place to put it to test the retail market,” he said.
But that wasn’t sufficient for council members.
“I applaud your efforts,” said Coucilman David Pogorilich, “I just don’t think we’ve gone far enough… There’s got to be more real retail than what’s shown here today.”
By the end of the two-hour workshop, both sides had come to a rough consensus. They had also talked about a “show and tell” to give the city a better understanding of the high-quality features, such as sinks and countertops, which the apartments would include.
Additionally, council members voiced their concerns about a potential lack of parking in the downtown redevelopment area once it’s complete and asked the developer to state in writing that anyone at any time could park in spaces in front of Sweetbay.
And they also talked about uses for the property in the short term.
“The sooner we can get people into this space, even when there’s not a building there, the better,” said Councilwoman Alison Fernandez. “A food truck, a festival, something.”
“If you guys want to do a weekend festival or whatever you want—please,” he said.