Key approvals for a new grocery store, a 114-unit apartment complex near the fire station and the first major step toward the 65-acre Legends End project all get public hearings next week.
Tuesday’s Plan Commission meeting also will review a 32-bed memory care facility to add on to Noel Manor and one of the final steps for the Sugar Creek Commons plan, including a tax-increment financing district that would help finance it.
In each case, the commission is holding public hearings that would lead to recommendations for the Common Council the following week.
The Lincoln Street apartments would replace the still-operating Cecor facility and are back after getting criticism in May for having too many apartments, too tall of buildings and having the buildings too close to an existing residential subdivision. The new plan adds one apartment on the same 3.5-acre spot but moves the buildings to the east and makes them all three stories, rather than two, three and four.
Any talk of a grocery store gets attention in Verona, and the Festival Foods plan brings back an idea that started in 2007, when Farm and Fleet located here. It brought a concept for the project on Hometown Circle to the commission and council in June, and its updated general development plan – the crucial step that permits the overall development – fixes some landscaping, parking and traffic-flow issues that concerned alders.
The Northwest Neighborhood Plan is the city’s first step in accommodating a developer’s desire to build a retail and residential complex at the new intersection of Northern Lights and PD. The plan would provide options to allow some of the major elements of the Legends End plan, including buildings up to 100 feet tall and as many as 50 residential units per acre.
The memory care facility replaces a previously approved plan for apartments in the final phase of the Prairie Oaks subdivision property on the city’s north side. Noel Manor already has a memory care unit that is at capacity just months after opening.
Sugar Creek Commons, a mix of retail shops and 255 apartments planned for West Verona Avenue, earned its key GDP approval in March and is returning for the final step.
The most universal comment local officials gave to the yet-unnamed Lincoln Street apartments in May was that there were too many apartments packed into a small area.
So prospective developer John Dohm raised the number, if only slightly.
Even the most ardent supporters of allowing more apartments in the city were uncomfortable with putting 32 units per acre that far from downtown. Some referred to the city’s downtown plan, which shows that area eventually redeveloping into a 72-unit complex.
In some other respects, however, the new plan reflects feedback from alders and commissioners, moving the buildings farther away from the decades-old residential area to the west and limiting buildings to three stories.
Dohm, who developed Prairie Crest Apartments more than a decade ago, has insisted that certain numbers are needed to ensure high-end amenities, such as on-site property management.
A submission with the request states the first building would be targeted to start construction in February.
Festival’s new plan fixes some concerns alders and commissioners brought up in the concept plan that was reviewed in June, partly by adding a 100-foot-wide strip of land to the east.
The consensus was that a request to waive the city’s minimum landscaping requirements (25 percent of the site) was unacceptable. Another concern was similarly related to packing the store into a tight spot – the traffic patterns from an awkward curve in the access road to the site.
The new land will be used for a stormwater detention pond, but it frees up other space on the site.
The only major exemption the new submission requests is far more likely to be accepted – allowing the building to be set to the back of the lot, as Farm and Fleet is, rather than the front, as buildings along West Verona Avenue are. Because the development is part of the Downtown Design Corridor, it’s required to keep an urban look and feel, which usually means parking in the back.
The general development plan is the second public step of three, and an approval this month by the council would entitle the company to build here as long as it’s substantially similar to the plans it has presented and follows standard guidelines.
Comments at the Common Council review of the project indicated there is opposition to Festival Foods because of loyalty to Miller and Sons Supermarket, but city leaders have pointed out they cannot use their powers to play favorites with incumbent businesses.