Downtown Plan Schedule
by NPT Staff
Posted on September 3, 2006
The hottest City Hall issue of the summer is coming back, and soon.
City documents obtained by Newspaper Tree point to a sequence of events leading to approval of the Downtown Plan by City Council by Oct. 31.
The Weekly Management Report for the week ending Aug. 18 indicates this sequence of events:
-- Sept. 8: an “administrative draft” of the revised Downtown Plan is due to the city from the planners, SMWM.
-- Sept. 11-15: the city, the Paso del Norte Group and members of the City Plan Commission will review the draft and make comments.
-- Sept. 13: at a PDNG meeting, city and PDNG comments will be consolidated and given to SMWM.
-- Sept. 21: the City Plan Commission will have public meetings.
-- Sept. 28: the commission will have an official hearing, and possibly recommend plan approval.
-- Oct. 5: the commission will meet again and approve the plan if it hasn’t happened already.
-- Oct. 10 or 17: an ordinance adopting the plan is to be introduced to City Council.
-- Oct. 24 or 31: the Council will have a public hearing on plan adoption.
Newspaper Tree presents the management report as a matter of public record. [link]
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Another document from the city files shows the difficulty in figuring out how the plan will affect property owners. In an e-mail exchange between Edie Zuvanich, who is representing Starr Western Wear, and mayoral assistant Robert Andrade, Zuvanich seeks a written commitment of Mayor John Cook’s pledge that Starr will be allowed to stay in its location Downtown. [email]
Starr, owned by Union Fashion owner Enoch Kimmelman, is in an area designated for a “lifestyle” mall, essentially an outdoor mall. Under the plan, his property would be owned by an organization called a REIT, formed to control large swaths of property so large-scale developers could be enticed to build housing, shopping and offices Downtown.
Kimmelman and Zuvanich have taken the lead in the Unified Downtown Revitalization Coalition, a group opposed to the Downtown plan’s underpinning of large-scale transfer of property leading to large-scale redevelopment.
Cook said in an interview with NPT that “a business like Starr Western Wear, which is an icon Downtown, is very important and is going to make the Downtown plan work. So what I have told the owners of that business is I don’t see that business disappearing or being inconsistent with what we're trying to do.”
He also said that he doesn’t see the REIT as the only way to achieve redevelopment, giving the example of property owners on a given block agreeing to lease to a large-scale retailer, or to several retailers.
“However they want to do it, there's a lot of ways to skin a cat. If they want a corporation, a partnership, or to start their own REIT, that’s fine,” Cook said. “My goal is to make sure we have a Downtown plan that when it is finalized it ends up working for everybody.”
Zuvanich said of her email exchange with the mayor’s assistant: “You'll notice you didn’t get an email back saying ‘yes’ (Starr would not be taken over) in writing. It was just something the mayor said and we've been trying to nail him down ever since.”
She also said, “we're still trying to talk to the mayor and say this isn’t about one store. It's not a matter of one store being saved, or one landmark, but that our market area and the economy of the market area is preserved.
“We're fighting for a healthy Downtown economy and that doesn’t happen if they start using eminent domain on all the businesses except ours.”
* * *
Background Articles and Documents
-- July 10 review of the plan, REITS, eminent domain, and the cast of characters [link]
-- July 10 article on the City Council meeting in which city staff were directed to pursue adopting the plan [link]
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