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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Yearlong street closures to make way for new housing

The city will not charge the developer, Catalyst Design Works, to close portions of Elm, Fifth and Sixth streets.

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Corrected cutline: Partial lane and street closures on Fifth, Sixth and Elm streets were approved by City Council at its Aug. 15 meeting in preparation for construction on the former site of Bengals and Casablanca. A previous version of this cutline misidentified the streets closing. The Maneater regrets the error.

Jennifer Levin/Staff Photographer

Portions of Elm, Fifth and Sixth streets will close for about a year as Catalyst Design Works constructs an apartment building at the former site of Casablanca Mediterranean Grill and Bengals Bar and Grill.

Catalyst’s request for the complete closure of Elm Street between Fifth and Sixth Streets, partial closure of Fifth Street and lane restrictions for Sixth Street, as well as other partial closures of surrounding sidewalks and alleyways, was unanimously approved by City Council during its Aug. 15 meeting.

“I believe the City Council passed this request because we had previously purchased the land about 18 months ago and have been working extremely closely with city staff making sure everything is done the right way,” Catalyst spokesman Jack Cardetti said.

The council currently has no policy in place to force developers to pay fees for road or sidewalk closure; however, the council has discussed implementing one.

“I am frustrated because the council sent a very clear message that they wanted a street policy nine weeks ago, and instead of a policy, we get another street closure,” Mayor Brian Treece said at the Aug. 15 meeting.

While Catalyst will not be charged to close streets around their development, the council plans to draft an ordinance in the near future. “We could definitely draft up some options and have an ordinance ready to go by next meeting,” Second Ward Councilman Michael Trapp said at the meeting. Cardetti said Catalyst would like the council to be consistent. “As a local developer, we just want the City Council to be fair,” Cardetti said. “We just didn’t see that to be fair to us to have them change their policies and expect us to pay whatever the fee may be. However, in the future if they do make a policy and set some ground rules, we will be more than willing to follow them and adapt to that policy in future projects.”

In May, the council approved an administrative delay on multifamily housing within a one-mile radius of an “area bounded on the north by Elm Street, the west by Providence Road, the south by Stadium Drive and the east by Hitt Street,” according to previous The Maneater reporting. Catalyst’s development plans were already in the permit process at the time of the freeze, so they were not delayed.

Catalyst closed the streets to make way for its new development Aug. 16, and they are set to reopen by Aug. 15, 2017. Edited by Kyra Haas | @khaas@themaneater.com

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