Friday, May 16, 2014

A tale of two city projects

Posted By on Fri, May 16, 2014 at 9:04 AM

In early April, I spoke to long-ago Indy music editor Noel Black, now at KRCC, who along with his friend and familiar local restaurant face, Michael Carsten, was (and remains in the process of) looking into creating an eatery and drink spot in the former The Little Market & Deli at 749 E. Willamette Ave.

The project was and remains in such an infant stage, with many concerns ahead of it, including parking issues, liquor licensing and other "major contingencies." 

Some of those are addressed in last week's Gazette article by writer Bill Vogrin, in which Steve Tuck, of the city's Land Use Review Division, was quoted as saying "I haven't seen how they are going to address or resolve those issues yet."
click to enlarge Hell hath few furies like an angry neighbor. - JUERGEN FAELCHLE/SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Juergen Faelchle/Shutterstock
  • Hell hath few furies like an angry neighbor.
Community dialogue following that article has largely spilled onto Facebook pages such as one run by the CEO of the Colorado Springs Young Professionals, where nearing 50 comments are found presently, defending both sides of the argument over this venture's viability and neighborhood impact. 

Unsurprising concerns — many of which play into most NIMBY debates as they pertain to business development  — range from worry of home value decline, noise, alcohol being served late and parking in front of directly neighboring homes.

Proponents cite vibrant neighborhoods from Denver to Seattle, bemoaning hurdles to progress in our city.

In next week's Indy, we aim to examine this tension as it also pertains to another hopeful, nearby project in the space that's currently operating as Butch’s Automotive Services on 1412 N. Corona St.

We have attended a preliminary neighborhood meeting, in which we heard many of the same concerns voiced from direct neighbors, as well as support from neighbors within a few blocks, who wouldn't have to endure the potential parking and noise impact. 

Local chef James Davis (for many years of The Blue Star) and sommelier Billy Adams are the driving force behind the Butch's effort, which has yet to submit a formal application to our city planners, and likely wouldn't open until sometime in 2015 should it be approved.  

The partners, who envision applying for a parking variance to address at least that concern, are proposing "an urban restaurant for a diverse, community-based neighborhood" which already hosts Dogtooth Coffee Company across the street on the Casa Verde Commons co-housing block. 

We've also talked to city planner Mike Schultz, who'll make the initial decision (and possibly final, should no appeals be made) on that pitch should it move forward. He'll highlight how he makes his calls and discuss the often-arduous mediation process between neighbors and entrepreneurs. 

As Black says about his proposal, "It's gonna be a long shot at this point, but I think that the larger stakes are whether or not we decide as a community to allow change into older neighborhoods like Shooks Run to develop locally owned businesses that can compete against chains, create more walkable central neighborhoods, etc."

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