The 12South Neighborhood Association Board of Directors has been closely following the conversation about proposed developments in 12South, including those pending for the corner of 12th and Montrose, the corner of 12th and Paris, and on the site of the Tabernacle Baptist Church at the north end of the business district. We are also following the discussion of potential public parking at the parking lot being constructed for the re-opening of the Waverly Belmont School at the corner of 10th Avenue and Caruthers. Our summary positions on these four issues are as follows and we elaborate below.
- We oppose the proposals to rezone residential lots for commercial purposes in both the Montrose and Paris projects.
- We support the Tabernacle Baptist Church project as it is currently described.
- We reserve final judgment on the advisability of shared parking between the commercial district and the school. We can see potential benefit as well as ill effects and would like to foster further interaction between and exploration by all stakeholders before a final decision is taken.
Because we are a neighborhood association, our concerns about these developments, first and foremost, center on their implications for the residential character of the 12South neighborhood. We have supported the development of an Urban Design Overlay (UDO) for 12South, which was last discussed at a community meeting in November of 2014. The draft standards for the UDO are attached.
The UDO proposed by the city planning staff would allow for some business development encroachment into the residential side streets in 12South—up to a boundary of 250-300 feet. On some side streets, as the attached parking map indicates, commercial development has already reached this limit. Any new encroachment (indicated in green on the map) would be specifically limited to the provision of parking and could not be turned toward a different future use.
Although we are generally opposed to the extension of commercial properties into areas currently zoned residential, we believe that the UDO reflects a balanced approach that would help to alleviate parking issues that afflict the neighborhood in the wake of increased development in the business district. The UDO would also set a hard limit for future development and prevent future piecemeal attempts to extend commercial interests into neighborhood side streets through zoning change applications. In addition, the UDO contains limits on building size and stories, requirements for how much parking must be provided for a business, setback requirements, and requirements for landscape buffering between commercial properties and residential properties.
Business property owners on 12South have thus far declined to support the UDO, as it limits their flexibility for future development. We begin with discussion of the UDO because we believe it is the best long term solution to balanced and smart growth in 12South, and our response to specific development zoning change requests is guided by it.
For example, the 12th and Montrose development seeks a zoning change to turn two houses behind Summer Classics to retail and office space with parking behind them. We are opposed to this as a piecemeal change, but would support it within the context of the UDO, which would allow for at least one of the houses to be used for this and perhaps both. Similarly, the development proposed at 12th and Paris would turn a lot currently zoned residential into parking. Again, we could support this within the context of the UDO, but not as a piecemeal plan that would take a residential property and make it commercial.
In contrast, the project proposed for the Tabernacle Baptist Church site is a completely residential one within existing zoning except for a very small piece that would need to be rezoned. This project would increase residential/human density in 12South, a positive goal that takes the neighborhood toward a future in which neighborhood residents increasingly patronize 12South businesses and potentially reduce the volume of cars coming into the neighborhood. The Tabernacle project developers have been very responsive to neighborhood concerns about traffic and parking and plan for ample parking for their residents as well as some public parking that could help take the place of the parking that will be lost when the church parking lot is taken up by the apartment complex that is planned.
The proposed parking lot behind the Waverly Belmont school does not intersect with any UDO issues, as the property belongs to the city. The issues at stake for this parking lot, as the 12SNA board sees it, are whether the implications of additional public parking at this site are positive or negative for neighborhood residents. That we need more parking for the businesses in 12South is a given. That the new school will increase traffic in 12South is also a given, and the city has taken various steps to alleviate this, including the extension of Waldkirch so that it connects with 11th Avenue. The parking lot also has egress to Caruthers, which means that public parking traffic, if public parking were allowed, would empty onto two residential streets at various hours of the day and night. Finally, there could be negative impact from the intermingling of entertainment/dining and school activities, and the board would like to hear definite plans about keeping the entirety of the new school property clean, safe and “G-rated.”