Leader Blues

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

TOP STORY >> Major chains looking

By RICK KRON
Leader staff writer

With the success of Chili’s, a developer is pressing hard to get Jacksonville’s approval to bring a Cici’s Pizza restaurant and at least one other national franchise to the city.

“Jacksonville is on the radar of a number of national chains right now,” said Tommy Bond, with Bond Consulting Engin-eers and representing the developer.

Along with the commercial development, two new subdivisions should get final approval this week. The commercial plan is a complicated and fragile deal that calls for developing the acreage on Marshall Road, north of the New China restaurant and west of John Harden Drive.

Plans call for at least two retail buildings with more than 35,000 square feet and close to 200 parking spaces, but the developer needs to get all the necessary approvals before leaving the area later this month. There are a number of hurdles that the developer hopes to clear at Board of Adjustment and planning commission meetings at 6 p.m. Monday at city hall.
First, the developer is trying to combine two lots into one, but the northern lot is under the control of the hospital and only medical-related businesses are to be built on the land.

The developer must get approval from the hospital board to change that requirement and to move a billboard on the property.

“We’ve made contact with the hospital board members and there doesn’t seem to be any problems there,” Bond said. The developer must also meet with the board of adjust ments to get a variance for building setbacks. On one lot the setback is 50 feet and on the other its is 25 feet. “We want it to be 25 feet across the lots or the developer won’t be able to get his buildings in,” Bond explained. The planning commission will meet immediately after the board of adjustments to give approval to the project if enough of the question marks have been rectified.

Bond added that he thought the project was a good economic deal for Jacksonville. If the commission approves it, then the city council can review the project and give it a final approval as early as its Thursday meeting. Also at its Thursday night meeting the council will:

• Decide on rezoning the 20-acre Graham Settlement, near the corner of Loop and Graham roads from commercial to single-family homes (R-1) for new subdivision of homes. The planning commission unanimously approved the rezoning earlier this month.
• The council must also decide on the rezoning of the 120-acre Foxwood Estates from manufactured homes (R-7) to single-family homes (R-0) so that a county-style gated community can be built. Plans call for lots to average about 5 acres. The development has been called “country living in the city.”
• Aldermen will also approve the final plat of the Eastview Subdivision, Phase IV-B, completing Gina Circle.
• Make three appointments to the Residential Housing Facilities Board.
• Honor youth coaches of the year.