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Council gets update on city development projects

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The City Council received a staff presentation at a work session Tuesday recapping the status of current development projects in the city.

The goal was to brief the council, which includes three new members, before action is expected, said City Manager Bev Cameron.

Mayor Mary Katherine Greenlaw said it was “extremely helpful” to see all of the projects at once.

The projects—which include commercial, residential and mixed-use developments—are expected to come before the council over the next few months.

Some of the developers will be seeking special-use permits. Others are seeking approval of a preliminary plat or a rezoning.

Cameron said the recent surge in development proposals is “a good thing for the city.”

The council acted Tuesday night on two issues for one of the projects.

Liberty Place is a mixed-use project proposed by developer Thomas J. Wack for 1.42 acres between Amelia and William streets.

The William Street Executive Center site at 605 William St. was formerly owned by The Free Lance–Star Publishing Co.

The council approved a special-use permit to increase the number of residential units allowed on the site from 34 to 51.

The council approved the developer’s request to vacate roughly 10 feet of the 64-foot Amelia Street right of way between Winchester and Douglas streets to provide front yards for residential units and maximize the site size.

Wack also has agreed to provide an easement to build a sidewalk outside of the right of way.

As a condition of approval of the vacation, Wack must complete an archaeological survey of the site prior to approval of the final subdivision plat.

Wack envisions Liberty Place as a mixed-use project with 51 condominium units, approximately 34,000 square feet of commercial and office space and underground parking.

The project is to include trees, brick sidewalks and a plaza that faces William and Winchester streets.

Each measure passed by a 6–1 vote, with Councilman Matt Kelly voting in opposition each time.

Kelly said Liberty Place is a “beautiful project” but he didn’t want to vote until the public was briefed on the city’s plans to financially invest in it.

“Without city involvement, there is a question of whether this project will go forward at all,” Kelly said.

Planning Director Chuck Johnston and Zoning Administrator Michael Craig also briefed the council on Cowan Crossing, a commercial development along the U.S. 1 Bypass at its intersection with Cowan Boulevard.

The project, being developed by a subsidiary of the Silver Cos., has an associated residential component now before the Planning Commission.

Cowan–Miller LLC wants to re-subdivide 57 parcels and public right-of-way easements into 68 lots to build 62 townhouses and six single-family houses.

The residential area would be known as Townhomes at Cowan Crossing and be located near Mullins & Thompson Funeral Home and Centre Court commercial properties.

The council will be asked to approve three special-use permits for fast-food restaurants at Cowan Crossing. At their last meeting, Commissioners recommended approval of those permits.

Zoning map amendments are being sought for the Governors Row project on Hays Street, which would bring 36 additional townhouses to the city.

A zoning map amendment is also being sought for the Hamptons at Celebrate project, which would include 256 apartments and 112 assisted-living units.

That project would be located along Fall Hill Avenue at Briscoe Lane.

Additional projects expected to come before the council in the next few months include a special-use permit request from Ross and Lynda Retterer, who want to open a two-bedroom bed-and-breakfast at 1513 Caroline St.; a Mill District proposal for 140 condominiums and 37,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space; and the Embrey Hills townhouse development near Bragg Hill.

Former commissioner Ed Whelan is driving the Mill District project planned for 9 acres around the Old Silk Mill along Princess Anne, Caroline and Sophia streets.

Developer Mike Degan is seeking a special-use permit for Parkview, a four-condo building at 425 William St. with a drive-through bank proposed for the first floor.

Pamela Gould: 540/735-1972