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Parking Pending, 121 on Main site plan approved

Developer proposes wait and see approach on additional lot

SOLON– They’re going to work on the parking details.
The Solon City Council approved a site plan for 121 on Main, a proposed Main Street development, but made the action conditional on an agreement for off-street parking.
Possible solutions were presented at a March 1 council meeting, but none came near to meeting the minimum 52 parking spaces the city’s ordinances would require.
“We just want to demonstrate that we’re trying to provide parking. The most recent businesses that have opened haven’t done that,” developer Mark Pattison told council members. “We just want council to work with us.”
The short-handed council members unanimously approved the site plan with contingencies on a 3-0 vote.
Pattison, along with Jim Hauer and Brad Randall, doing business as HPR Investments, have proposed demolishing three houses on Main Street and replacing them with a single, two-story building consisting of 12,000 square feet of ground level commercial and eight condominiums on the second story.
One of the residences targeted, 131 W. Main St., is owned by Solon Mayor Steve Stange and is the subject of a purchase agreement with the developers. During a Jan. 18 public hearing regarding the ordinance amending the zoning for Stange’s property, several adjacent neighbors voiced their concern about parking on the west edge of Main Street.
HPR Investments has purchased an additional residential lot south of the proposed development, 120 W. Short St., to address commercial parking problems, but the developers have indicated they would prefer to retain the existing home if possible.
Instead, Pattison presented several options to both the Solon Planning and Zoning (P&Z) Commission and the council, including utilizing off-alley space between the Main Street and Short Street properties, or carving out a portion of the frontage along West Street to allow for diagonal stalls.
HPR sought waivers from both open space and parking requirements as part of the site plan application.
According to City Administrator Cami Rasmussen, P&Z members recommended the site plan and the open space waiver for approval, but made it subject to clear title and some compromise on parking.
“In regard to the parking, they agreed to some flexibility,” Rasmussen said, noting the consensus was to take a wait-and-see approach as suggested in a letter from the developers.
“We’re totally open to doing anything,” Pattison said, noting he and his partners had purchased the Short Street residence in anticipation of the problem.
With 12 potential spaces along the alley, eight on the street and maybe eight placed diagonally on West Street, the developers could provide just over half the required stalls.
“We don’t want to tear down a beautiful house, nor can we afford to do that whole lot in parking,” Pattison said.
He suggested the city wait for the results of a downtown parking study before making a final decision on the required number of spaces, or that a more porous surface be considered temporarily.
“Maybe it’s not concrete or asphalt initially,” he said. “Maybe it’s millings or maybe it’s rock.”
Pattison also suggested the city could wait to see what future tenants occupy the commercial space and assess the demand, and noted three public parking lots are located within 500 feet of the development.
But delaying a decision on parking prevents the city from calculating the requirements for stormwater drainage, something pointed out during the meeting by City Engineer Dave Schechinger
“When we add more parking, we add more runoff, and that increases the size of the stormwater management facility,” Schechinger said. “Without knowing how much parking we’re going to put in, we really can’t do that calculation.”
No final number of parking spaces was reached by the end of the discussion, and Rasmussen subsequently indicated the details would be finalized in a developer’s agreement.
Council member Steve Duncan said he understood Pattison’s argument about the use of public lots, but noted the city was going have to continue to look for additional parking in the downtown area as it expands.
Pattison argued all downtown businesses should be together on the issue, perhaps through a special assessment.
“If we put up a great big parking lot, essentially we’re putting up a Big Grove parking lot,” he said. “We’re willing to do our piece, but we’re not willing to foot the whole piece.”
The same argument was made by representatives of Prairie Equity Group, LLC, which proposed a mixed-use renovation of the former St. Mary auditorium.
The city council, citing the lack of off-street parking, voted down the site plan for Solon Lofts and Commons in January, despite its recommendation for approval by the P&Z. Prairie Equity Group proposed using on-street parking with overflow to an adjacent public lot.
The city previously waived parking requirements for Main Street projects, including Big Grove Brewery (2012), the Palmer House Stable (2013) and Red Vespa Pizzeria and Wine Bar (2015).
Both Prairie Equity Group representative Bill Wittig and Pattison said much of the commercial traffic generated by the two developments would occur during weekday business hours, when more parking is available.