The second phase of the new development near Market and Second Streets will move forward for city council consideration. The first phase includes a two-story building to be occupied by Reece Nichols, expected to be built in 2019. The second phase is a two-story structure with a total of 5,250 square feet. The top floor will have two residential apartment units and the lower level is an open concept that can be adapted for retail or business uses.
This phase of the development will include streetscaping that will look similar to the rest of downtown, such as brick pavers and trees. It will not include any additional parking, though the first phase will have a new lot: those spaces will be dedicated to Reece Nichols employees and customers during the day and open to the public evenings and weekends.
City staff recommended approval of the preliminary development plan with just one modification: Shannon McGuire, staff planner, said that the downtown design standards for landscaping don’t suit dense urban development. The developer has requested the same modification that was approved for the first phase, which staff and the planning commission supported.
Three residents and local business owners voiced concerns during the public hearing, primarily related to the adaptation of the alley behind the new Reece Nichols building. The alley currently sees a lot of pedestrian traffic but would be made a one-way drive as part of the development. Concerns about safety have been an ongoing part of the discussion. Each of the speakers said they weren’t opposed to the proposed building itself.
But there were also suggestions to adjust the design of the building, such as changing the arched windows to be more consistent with the rest of the downtown area. Chairperson Jason Norbury echoed the sentiment and also suggested an additional architectural element to help break up the floors and the long linear appearance of the building.
Norbury asked the commission to consider whether the changes that had been discussed were enough to continue the vote to a later date. At a recent joint meeting with the city council, councilmembers had requested that the commission take their time to ensure a “fully baked” development proposal before sending it on.
The preliminary development plan was unanimously recommended for approval by the commission. It will go to the city council next for additional consideration and a vote on whether to approve.
Commissioner Donnie Funk was absent from the Dec. 13 meeting.