The Planning Commission rejected zoning variances for what would be the first mixed-used residential development in the 9th and 9th business district, tentatively called the 9th and 9th Mixed Use Development. Dozens of angry residents turned out to Wednesday’s meeting to voice concerns about the size of the project and the number of parking spaces proposed by developers.
The 35,000 square-foot development at 932 East 900 South, would consist of three floors with a mix of retail and residential. The first floor would include 5,000 square feet of retail space fronting 900 South with rear-accessed parking occupying the rest of the first floor. The project would provide 25 parking spaces accessed from Lincoln Avenue. The second and third floors would include 28 condos that would be mostly one and two bedroom units.
The discrepancy between the number of residential units and parking available is what essentially led the commission to deny the petition.
Developers needed approval to exceed the 15,000 square foot limit on the first floor and the overall maximum allowed 20,000 square foot limit for the whole structure.
Although the current proposal provides less parking spaces than available residential units, the amount is still almost double the city’s minimum requirement of 14 spaces. The reduced parking requirement is through the “pedestrian exception” that allows for developments with this designation to provide less parking. Without the exception, the project would need to provide 53 stalls. The pedestrian-friendly nature of the 9th and 9th district, as well as ample bicycle parking within 100 feet of the project, qualify the retail portion for the parking exception. Mixed-used projects only need to provide one parking space for every two units.
On-street parking was the dominant concern from residents worried that there is already too little available parking in the neighborhood. Many residents felt that the project was too large for the neighborhood.
Several members of the planning commission voiced displeasure about the number of parking spaces, with one member stating that “he didn’t know a single person that didn’t drive.”
Although the project exceeds the minimum parking requirements established by city zoning, the planning commission used resident’s concerns about parking to deny the project based on its “community impact.”
The development would replace a one-story retail structure and a surface parking lot, that would be demolished to make way for the new project. The new mixed-used building would take up almost of all of the lot’s entire land area. The current proposal called for zero setback from 900 South and meets the required 10-foot minimum rear-yard setback. A four-foot tall retaining wall, light proof fence and five trees were proposed along the south facing property line to shield parking from view and reduce the building’s visual impact on the low-density residential that is directly south of the project.