Council Turns Attention To City Center Redevelopment
With plans moving forward on the design of a new police station, the city council is turning to another of its main goals for this term: Creating favorable rules to spur redevelopment of West University Place’s City Center.
The council worries that draconian regulations that apply to the rows of shops and restaurants lining Edloe Street and University Boulevard are so strict they will turn away businesses that may want to redevelop the area.
“What I’d like to do is have the city council create a committee to look at the issue and bring us back some recommendations,” said Mayor Pro Tem Bob Fry at a city council workshop last week.
Fry said he hopes that representatives from all city boards and commissions will join the special committee. Councilman Steven Segal said he’d like to invite other West U. residents and stakeholders as well.
“I hope some people read about it and are interested,” Segal said.
The council will start appointing members for the Ad Hoc Committee at tonight’s council meeting.
The council decided to address downtown redevelopment in mid July after Councilman George Boehme, who owns Edloe Street Deli, expressed concerns that current regulations discourage redevelopment.
“It seems to me it makes sense if what we are really trying to do is encourage constructive development, desirable development, we ought to start with a set of zoning rules that make sense,” Boehme said in July.
Boehme said he will abstain from discussions and voting moving forward because City Attorney Alan Petrov said Boehme has a conflict of interest since he owns a business that operates in the City Center.
About six years ago, the city created plans for a city center development, but they were not implemented. The Zoning and Planning Commission has considered the downtown area for years, but a major issue has been finding business owners willing to participate.
Some of the changes the council will likely consider deal with large building setbacks and parking requirements.
“This is a priority for us, on this council,” Fry said. “It’s been going on so long now without anything done on it … I’d like to see us do something on it.”