Sunday, March 27, 2011

Zoning Restrictions Hobbling Growth

One more in a long list.

[I]t's been years since major projects – other than those spurred by public dollars – have shown signs of life downtown.

[...]Word of mouth travels fast and Sunil Patel has already heard this sentiment that the city makes developing downtown difficult. 

And Patel, a principal with Wilmington Hotel Inc., has already encountered his first hurdle for the Marriott project.

At a recent technical review committee meeting, officials informed him that city code doesn't allow for signs to exceed 200-square-feet. "Wow," he replied.

He wants two signs on each side of the building but the city code only allows one on sides fronting the right of way, Walton said. 

Patel will try to get a variance but was warned it might not be easy and that previous attempts have been denied. 

"Shot me down," Wilmington Downtown Inc. President and CEO John Hinnant said at the meeting.
Hinnant applied on behalf of the Hilton Wilmington Riverside in 2008 for an additional sign on the side of the building for the Ruth's Chris Steak House, but was turned down.

[...][Dave Spetrino, Principal Owner of Riverfront Holdings, LLC] claims the city's codes don't leave a lot of wiggle room. It's a strict set of guidelines that lack flexibility, he added.
He gives the example of the city's glazing requirement. At least 51 percent of the first floor has to be glass. 

[...]A lot has changed since 2006 when architects started drawing plans for The View. 

Terry Espy, managing partner and project developer, said it took three years to get the needed permits.

The land, which has all the needed permits and has been released for construction from the city, now sits vacant as the economic tornado hit that project too. 

[...]The tallest buildings allowed downtown are 240 feet compared with 80 feet in other places. And downtown development doesn't require a traffic impact analysis.
So the tallest buildings allowed in the city are 80 ft.  Does this help explain why so many times it seems like we're living in a parking lot and everything is so spread out?

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