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Crestview office project gets initial approval

Tuesday, October 21, 2014 by Elizabeth Pagano

Changes to a proposed Crestview office project were enough to keep it alive at City Council last week.

Currently, the 2.275 acres at Justin Lane and Cullen Avenue are home to a Korean Presbyterian Church. Developer David Kahn is proposing to build a project of just under 70,000 square feet. Though initially the project was to be an office building, Kahn has modified his plan, which will now also consist of 14 percent residential space.

The neighborhood has a valid petition against the project, which stands at 28.74 percent. That means that City Council will have to approve the zoning with six or more votes.

Last Thursday, Council voted 4-2 to approve Limited Office- Mixed Use zoning which was enough to grant the change on first reading. Council Members Kathie Tovo and Mike Martinez voted against the change and Council Member Laura Morrison was absent for the vote.

“I have some doubts about this, and I’m not sure that I would support it on second and third reading, but I appreciate the change that is aimed toward providing some residential on the perimeter of the garage,” said Council Member Chris Riley. “I will vote ‘aye’ to keep it alive.”

Since the Planning Commission heard the case, Kahn has changed his request. He is now asking for General Office — Mixed Use zoning, with Limited Office site development restrictions and uses aside from building coverage and impervious cover, a limit of 1,110 vehicle trips per day, a height limit of 30 feet on most of the site, and prohibiting medical office use. Kahn will now also include residential uses facing Cullen Street and part of Hardy Lane.

“The primary difference is adding multifamily to soften up the edge of the parking structure, and putting like uses across the street from like uses,” said Ron Thrower, who was representing Kahn.

Later, Thrower offered to accept Limited Office- Mixed Use zoning for the entire tract.

Kahn explained that, despite the land having one use since 1958, it currently has three different zoning categories on it. He said that it presented a “difficult situation” for him. He addressed the valid petition and the neighborhood opposition.

“There is a petition, and the petition was based on a lot of rumors, and creating a lot of fear, which was unjustified,” said Kahn.

Joe Harbolovic, who is the secretary of the Crestview Neighborhood Planning Contact Team, told Council that the contact team opposed the changes, and asked for them to be denied. He said that the land uses were incompatible with the neighborhood, the neighborhood plan and would create unwanted traffic. He proposed SF-4b zoning as an alternative, which he said was a “compromise the contact team could get behind.”

Thrower said that he had briefly considered accepting SF-4b zoning, but did not consider it an appropriate use for the site.

Neighbor Chip Harris also spoke against the plan, saying it could set a precedent for commercial zoning in the neighborhood and triple the amount of traffic on residential streets.

“The three-story height of the office complex and parking garage will tower over the adjacent one-story single-family and duplex homes directly to the east and west of this property, effectively destroying the character of the neighborhood and serving as a catalyst and precedent for additional commercial development within the interior of our neighborhood,” said Harris.

Harris went on to explain that there was no demand for office buildings or parking garages in the neighborhood, but there was a demand for “missing middle” housing.

Thrower clarified that the zoning would currently allow a 32-foot parking garage, and they were proposing to limit its height to 30 feet. He also said that office was “certainly” a transitional use from commercial to residential.

“It’s a quiet use,” said Thrower. “We don’t believe that it’s an obnoxious use for the area, especially given that half the property is zoned LO (Limited Office) today.”

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