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Planners gain housing concessions from Shoal Creek Walk project

Monday, April 5, 2010 by Kimberly Reeves

At the urging of Planning Commissioners Kathy Tovo and Danette Chimenti, developers of the Shoal Creek Walk project have agreed to provide affordable housing for the downtown project. The commission then approved the 350-foot office tower planned on land next to the Whole Foods Market.


Although the company was not required to participate in the density bonus program because its DMU-CURE request was based solely on height, Schlosser Development met with Tovo and Chimenti to hammer out an agreement that satisfied the full commission.


Tovo, in particular, has been vocal about her concerns about a lack of affordable housing being generated downtown, a point she reiterated when Shoal Creek Walk was initially presented at Planning Commission. The commission put Shoal Creek Walk on hold in early March.


“I applaud the developer for being willing to work with us on this,” Chimenti told her colleagues. “There was, according to city legal, no requirement for affordable housing, even if they had gone the route of the density bonus program. So I think it was something to applaud that he was willing to come forward and provide something for affordable housing and even provide affordable housing for a commercial project.”


Shoal Creek Walk is primarily office space, with first-floor retail, but planners have added 90 condo units to the top of the project. DMU-CURE would allow Schlosser to increase the height of a 120-foot office tower to 350 feet without increasing the floor-to-area ratio.


In prior presentations, agent Alice Glasco also stressed that Schlosser was making concessions equivalent to $2.3 million. Those concessions included 30,000 square feet of green open space; improvements to Shoal Creek; a two-star Green Building rating on the construction; and a green roof on the smaller of the two buildings on the property.


Under the Shoal Creek Walk CURE affordable housing proposal, 5 percent of the units in any on-site residential component will qualify as affordable housing units, pricing at up to 80 percent median family income, or the developer will have the option, with support from Housing Works and the city’s neighborhood housing department to pay a fee in lieu.


The fee in lieu will be calculated at $3 per square foot of all gross leasable space built in excess of 687,000 sq. ft., which was the benchmark established in the zoning case. The fee would be paid upon issuance of the building’s certificate of occupancy once the benchmark is exceeded.


Regardless of the density of mix of uses built on the site, if the 687,000 sq. ft. is not exceeded, the developer agreed to pay a minimum fee in lieu of $100,000 toward affordable housing upon issuance of the certificate of occupancy for the final phase of the development.


The commission encouraged Schlosser to consider some type of on-site shower facility for cyclists, an amenity lacking downtown. Chair Dave Sullivan also asked that an alternate route be provided for cyclists if, and when, construction on the property might block the existing Shoal Creek bike path.

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