Bars, liquor stores, pawn shops and a variety of other uses won't be coming to a major East Lawrence development if city commissioners approve an agreement at their meeting tonight.
Commissioners are being asked to approve a pair of rezoning requests for a redevelopment of the area near Eighth and Pennsylvania streets that Lawrence builder Bo Harris wants to convert into a residential, retail and commercial district.
The list of banned uses - which number 13 - came about after commissioners urged Harris and members of the East Lawrence neighborhood to work on details of the proposed project.
"I've been genuinely pleased with where things have gone since those discussions," Mayor Mike Amyx said. "I think a lot of the issues have been hammered out, but we'll see where the discussion leads us."
Attempts to reach Harris and several leaders of the East Lawrence Neighborhood Association were not successful Monday. The project - which would rehabilitate several buildings, in addition to constructing five buildings along Pennsylvania Street - has been controversial.
Neighbors have been concerned that the development will be too dense, attract businesses that are not compatible with the area and create parking problems. Harris has countered that the project will improve the area by rehabilitating several buildings that are vacant and deteriorating.
City commissioners - on a 4-1 vote - gave the project tentative approval in August, but they instructed both sides to work on details of the project. City Commissioner David Schauner, who was the lone vote against the project in August, said he's not sure that the proposed zoning conditions do enough to protect the neighborhood.
"I think we're still bending over backwards to accommodate the developer on parking," Schauner said. "I think we're still going to see some overflow of parking into the neighborhood."
These business types would not be allowed in a proposed project to redevelop the area near Eighth and Pennsylvania streets, if city commissioners approve the agreement at tonight's meeting.
¢ Bars, unless at least 55 percent of sales are from food ¢ Liquor stores ¢ Ambulance services ¢ Car or truck washes ¢ Auto repair shops ¢ Businesses with drive-up ATMs or drive-through lanes ¢ Furriers ¢ Pawn shops ¢ Mobile home sales and service ¢ Golf driving ranges ¢ Pet stores ¢ Payday loan offices ¢ Convenience stores with gasoline
The zoning conditions, however, do attempt to address the parking issue. City planning staff member Lisa Pool said Harris had agreed to new parking requirements that increase the amount of parking for retail, residential and office uses in the district.
The agreement did not change one of the more contentious parts of the development. Plans still call for 54 condominium units to be built on the west side of Pennsylvania Street between Eighth and Ninth streets. That portion of the project will include five new buildings that each could be up to three stories in height.
Questions also remain about the financing of nearly $3 million worth of street, sidewalk and stormwater improvements needed to accommodate the project.
Commissioners have expressed an interest in using the Neighborhood Revitalization Act as a way to rebate the new property taxes that the project would generate, as long as Harris agrees to use the rebated taxes to pay for the infrastructure improvements.
Harris estimates that the infrastructure improvements - which include extending Delaware Street from Ninth Street to Eighth Street - will cost $2.8 million. Under the proposed Neighborhood Revitalization Act agreement, the developers would have the new property taxes rebated for a period of 10 years, and the total rebate could not exceed the total cost for the infrastructure improvements. It would mark the first time the city has used the Neighborhood Revitalization Act to rebate property taxes.
Commissioners have expressed an interest in using the Neighborhood Revitalization Act as a way to avoid using city at-large funds to pay for the public infrastructure improvements. But for the Neighborhood Revitalization Act to generate enough property tax rebates to cover the entire $2.8 million price tag, City Manager David Corliss said the county and the Lawrence school district likely would have to agree to participate in the tax rebate plan.
Corliss said he has alerted school and county leaders that such a request might be made of them in the coming months.
Commissioners meet at 6:35 p.m. today at City Hall, Sixth and Massachusetts streets.
Penn. Street development
- Chat about the future of East Lawrence with developer Bo Harris (09-26-06)
- Neighbors OK plans for E. Lawrence development (08-27-06)
- Divide escalates between young, older residents on development (08-20-06)
- Pennsylvania Street development receives tentative approval (08-09-06)
- Condos may go back to drawing board (08-08-06)
- Residents continue negotiations with developer on condominium (07-25-06)
- Development by design (07-25-06)
- Development project discussion postponed (07-19-06)
- Neighbors ready to fight East Lawrence project (07-14-06)
- Industrial buildings in east Lawrence renovated (04-22-06)