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Elizabeth Pagano is the editor of the Austin Monitor.
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Draught House plan for expansion is put on hold waiting for variance
Tuesday, May 21, 2013 by Elizabeth Pagano
The Draught House is hoping to expand into another floor but, for now, plans are on hold.
The popular neighborhood pub at 4112 Medical Parkway is asking for a variance from the Board of Adjustment that would allow it to locate its off-site parking 200 feet further than normally allowed by code – from 1,000 feet to 1,200 feet. They propose that 69 of the 88 parking spaces be located in a nearby garage.
“We don’t think that 200 feet more is going to make that much of a difference, come push or tug,” said Jim Bennett, who was representing the applicant.
In addition to expanding into the top floor of the building, the plan also calls for moving outdoor seating towards the front of the building, instead of the side, at the behest of the Rosedale Neighborhood Association. The move will relocate the seating further away from residential buildings.
The request is still under discussion with the Rosedale Neighborhood Association, who remains “neutral” on the variance.
In addition to being the dentist that is vacating the upstairs of the pub, Glenda Smith owns the Draught House.
“We don’t have definite plans for the upstairs, but it will not be just opened up to the public,” Smith explained. So far, plans include room for barrel aging, a private office, and grain storage, she said.
“It is not like we are opening up this venue to double the space. That is not our intent at all,” said Smith.
Bennett mentioned the extra space could be used for something like a pool table, which could not fit in the current, downstairs-only bar.
Bennett noted that the expansion will have to go through a conditional use permitting process, and go to the Planning Commission for a public hearing as a result.
Board Member Bryan King expressed concern about the arrangement, noting his first-hand experience with a business in his neighborhood whose patrons have clogged the neighborhood parking, despite the presence of a lot across the street that they could park in.
“The parking in the neighborhood is unbelievable, because they aren’t using the off-site parking that is directly across the street,” said King. “When I look at this and see that is not even within the 1,000 foot range… it really concerns me that people are not going to drive down the street to a medical building to park when they are going to a brew pub.
Board Member Michael Von Ohlen agreed, saying that people might not want to park in the off-site garage “even if they weren’t drunk.” He asked if the owners would consider hiring pedicabs or employing a valet golf cart like the Hula Hut, something the owner said she intended to do, even prior to the meeting.
Chair Jeff Jack said that he was troubled by the lack of a lease for the parking in the garage, saying that is was unrealistic to rely on the conditional use permit process at the Planning Commission to ensure the variance was enforceable.
Smith said she would bring paperwork indicating the intent to lease at the next meeting. In addition to that documentation, the board asked that she return with more details about plans for valet parking, a more clarified design of the second floor, and a “sense” of the traffic volume the change could create.
The case will return to the Board of Adjustment next month.
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