From the Lowry Hill East Neighborhood Association – Where Every Story Has Three Sides
French Meadow, 2610 Lyndale Avenue, has proposed a 36-space interim parking lot on the former Rex Hardware site, 2601-07 Lyndale. French Meadow is seeking additional parking because they would like to open an event “room” in the building next door to the CC Club which was formerly part of their commercial bakery, but is now unused. It would have a 30-50 person capacity, which requires 12-15 parking spaces (per City requirement). They originally proposed a larger capacity event space which would have required 35 parking spaces, but decided not to pursue it because they would not have had sufficient parking during the transition/construction on the Rex site from an interim parking lot to future new development. With the smaller capacity and parking requirement, they can use valet parking during the transition time. They are not planning to use valet parking right now because they can only secure agreements for shared parking (at the SOO gallery and a nearby veterinarian’s office) in the evening, and they would like to offer the event space during the day for meetings, etc.
The parking lot sites will need to be rezoned to C4, due to parallel zoning regulations requiring the zoning classification of parking lot to match that of the business using the lot. Some Wedge residents have had some concern over the various uses allowed within a C4 district, and question as to whether rezoning the lot rewards the current property owner by adding value to land they have neglected over the past few years.
The lot may only operate as interim parking for a maximum of five years per City code, and French Meadow has agreed to limit it to three years as requested by the Whittier Alliance. The application was approved by the Whittier Alliance Community Issues Committee with a 10-8 vote in favor, with the conditions that permeable pavers be used, landscape increased, and the three year limit imposed. The application still needs to go through the Whittier Alliance Board, which met February 28 as the Wedge went to press.
At the Whittier Community Issues meeting, it was suggested that French Meadow withdraw the parking lot proposal and instead request a variance for the 12-15 parking spaces needed. But, the LHENA Z & P Committee voted to oppose a parking variance; the motion passed with a vote of 4 yes-1 no-1 abstention. The Committee was not in favor of this idea, given the already tight parking situation and that French Meadow was just granted a separate parking variance in May, 2012. The LHENA Z & P Committee then voted 4 yes-2 no in favor of the interim surface lot, given that the three-year term is in place, and after which a new six-story residential or mixed-use development may possibly be built.
Then on February 20, the LHENA Board of Directors voted not to rezone the lot.
Whereas, The LHENA Board of Directors is not supportive of rezoning 2601-07 Lyndale Avenue South from C1 to C4 due to the intensity of uses this zoning classification would allow; and
Whereas, Constructing a new surface parking lot on a major commercial corridor is not in agreement with the spirit of the Lyn Lake Small Area Plan or neighborhood desires; and
Whereas, The proposed surface parking lot provides only a temporary solution to a long-term problem; therefore, be it
Resolved, That the LHENA Board of Directors does not support the request by French Meadow for an interim surface parking lot at 2601-2607 Lyndale Avenue South.
Approved unanimously, 8-0-0.
French Meadow does not currently own the Rex Hardware site, but they did at one point. They sold it to the Norlings (current owners), who demolished the Rex building with the intent to develop, before the economy crashed. The Norlings still owe French Meadow $150K from the sale which is held in the form of a lien against the property. French Meadow owns the two houses directly to the south of the site on Lyndale. The Norlings would like to sell the site to developers. French Meadow would like to exchange the two houses and the $150K lien for dedicated parking spaces within the future new development for their business. For the proposed interim site, French Meadow would lease the land and pay for all improvements to the site. The Norlings would be able to sell the site at any time within the three years it’s allowed to operate as a parking lot.