Jay Lindner says he will consider neighborhood concerns about bright lights and traffic when planning a development near Stephens Lake Park.
Lindner, a developer with Forum Development Group, has asked that the city rezone 8.15 acres on the northwest corner of Broadway and Trimble Road to accommodate multiple restaurants and office buildings. He would not comment on which restaurants he would build, but said some “sit-down restaurants, quick-casual restaurants, and one fast-food chain” are interested.
The Columbia Planning and Zoning Commission will hold a public hearing on Lindner’s request at its meeting Thursday night.
The only documents on file with the city for development of the site show plans for a Krispy Kreme Doughnuts store. Wilson Darnell Mann Architects has been investigating the site for a small- to medium-size store and met with city staff to discuss a concept plan in January.
In a letter to senior planner Chuck Bondra, architect Doug Allison proposed building a 3,521 square-foot store with the main entrance facing east and a drive-through window on the west. A preliminary site plan includes 40 parking spaces.
Barbara Hoppe, who lives near Stephens Lake Park, worries about bright lights, trash, traffic and pollution of Hinkson Creek. She thinks a fast-food restaurant would be too gaudy.
“Ideally it would be a great office or apartment
development,” she said. “The big thing is whatever is put there should not detract from the experience of the park.”
Lindner said he would use a light fixture that directs light on the development and away from the park. All the buildings would be single-story.
“We’ve got a huge tree buffer between us and Stephens Park property,” he said. “There’s no way you will even see the buildings or parking lots lights.”
Hoppe was influential in petitioning the city council to buy the park in 1999, when Stephens College considered selling it to developers.
“It seemed crucial to save such a historic park,” she said.
Bridget Murphy, a frequent park visitor, said a fast-food restaurant would not fit with the city’s dedication to healthy and smart growth.
“I just don’t see a place for a fast-food chain right there next to the creek,” she said. “It would destroy the view from the park. I don’t feel those kinds of establishments contribute to the local economy.”
The city rezoned the property in 1986 for low-density office development. In 1990, the city council denied a request to rezone it for high-density commercial development.
Lindner said specific plans for the property won’t be done for at least a month.
“The plans are up in the air depending on what goes on in the city planning process and how the pieces fall into place,” he said.
Lindner said the same traffic and runoff issues that influenced his development of the nearby Broadway Shops will guide his planning for the restaurant and office site.
The city staff has recommended denial of the rezoning. Bill Watkins, assistant city manager and interim planning director, said there has been too little time to review the developer’s traffic study.