Archive for Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Building owner explains plans for downtown condo development

March 13, 2007

It looks like downtown Shawnee will soon see even more brand-new buildings.

The city's downtown area has seen a new streetscape, a new pool, and a new building with commercial space on the bottom floor and a condo on the second floor. Now, the developer of the latter says he wants to bring more of the same condo-style living to downtown.

Joe Lino, owner of Lino's Vac Services and Lino's Holding LLC, is the man behind the proposal. After remodeling the old Marietta's Florist building downtown, Lino built the first entirely new structure the heart of downtown has seen in years on the adjoining lot, with a state-of-the-art loft on the second floor for himself.

Now he wants to take the same idea and replicate it on property along Barton Road, one block west of Nieman, between 57th Street and 57th Terrace.

"The concept is live upstairs and have your business below," Lino said, "and I already have 12 people who want to be contacted once pricing is in place."

Lino said he became interested in building more space with a home above and a business below when he realized how much demand there was for the concept. While trying to sell the commercial space in his new building, several people wanted to buy both the bottom floor and the condo upstairs, something Lino couldn't do at the time because the condo was his home.

He knew the property on Barton, a 22,660 square-foot lot that contains a run-down home and out-building, was for sale, and five years ago nearly became a parking lot for nearby Vitacraft. With the help of fellow developer Steve VanLerberg, he ran his idea by city officials, and it met with approval.

The plan calls for three buildings with lower-level spaces for seven commercial units and six upper-level condo units, all connected by garages for the condos and an alleyway behind the buildings. The development is based on Lino's new building on Johnson Drive, using the same brick and stucco exterior.

The development will be built in three phases, one for each building. The buildings on either end of the development each will contain a three-bedroom condo and two commercial spaces. The central building will contain three larger commercial spaces, two three-bedroom condos, and in the central, three-story portion, two two-bedroom condos.

All told, the development will have nearly 26,000 square feet of living and commercial space for sale. The commercial spaces are from 1,100 square feet to 2,000 square feet. The condos range from just under 2,000 square feet to nearly 2,600 square feet, not including the garages.

The design includes a courtyard with a water fountain between each phase.

Lino said each of the units will be sold, not rented, and as soon as one unit in the first phase is sold, building can begin on the second phase. He hopes to find many buyers who want both the commercial space and the condo.

"The home-based business that people used to do, everyone's getting in your face about that now," Lino said. "So, separate the two; live upstairs and have your office downstairs. We're really moving on that concept."

The rezoning for the property will be considered at the Planning Commission's April 2 meeting. It would change the property's zoning from R-1 to Townsquare, and since the property is parts of the city's neighborhood revitalization district in downtown, it is eligible for a 90 percent, 10-year tax abatement.

If all goes smoothly, Lino said the earliest date he could begin construction would be May 1. Among the 12 people interested in the plans are a cake and pastry shop owner, a lawyer and an accountant, Lino said, adding that the commercial spaces likely would hold offices rather than retail.

Lino said the plan has gained approval from other businesses and developers in the downtown area, who learned about the project at a March 2 meeting about downtown development in general.

Two other new buildings have been proposed in the area, though one is moving forward more slowly than expected.

Last summer, local contractor Fish Development and Commerce Bank proposed tearing down the bank building on the southwest corner of Johnson Drive and building a newer, two-story, 22,000 square-foot building with more retail, office or residential space. Exterior plans were drawn up, and Shannon Nelson, Fish co-owner, said if any portion of the old, stone Shawnee State Bank remained in the bank walls, builders would try to utilize it in the new building.

However, Nelson also said developers would not move forward with the building until 50 percent of the space had been leased. Nelson said the project hasn't met the 50 percent goal yet, but Fish and the bank are also looking at other options. He said the Shawnee Downtown Partnership's effort to set up a not-for-profit organization to further downtown development could help defray some of the costs of the building's development.

Further south on Nieman, developers have proposed another retail building. The 12,000 square-foot, multi-unit building was proposed on the lot at 6115 Nieman Rd., which formerly contained a nursery.

The Shawnee City Council approved a variance in the stormwater setback for the building in August. Paul Chaffee, planning director, said the city hasn't visited with the developers since then, though they have cleared the nursery structures from the lot. The small house on the lot has yet to be removed.

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