Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Leininger Picks Up National Oil & Gas Story

Would gas station be compatible?
City planners want properties near Harrison Square to have “character.”
Link (NS)

"To be fair, the National Oil and Gas Co. says it doesn't know what it will do with the properties on West Jefferson Boulevard and Ewing Street. But some speculate the company is considering opening a gas station-convenience store across the street from land that should be filled with a baseball stadium and trendy condominiums, restaurants and shops less than two years from now.

It wasn't too long ago that any potential investment downtown would be hailed as good news. In the post-Harrison Square era, however, the bar has been raised. Whether that results in better development - or simply less development - remains to be seen.

“There's been a philosophical shift. Instead of looking at properties as having a single function, we have a preference for mixed-use and aesthetics,” said Pam Holocher, director of the city's Planning Department, which in September created the “Around the Square” plan to guide growth near Harrison Square."


"“Around the Square” targets National Oil's land for “mixed use,” including high-density housing, recreation, offices, specialty shops and other activities. “Certain characteristics typically associated with less-dense developments such as drive-through facilities, minimum setbacks (from the street), single-story buildings and on-site parking should be discouraged,” the plan states. A gas station, by definition, is a “drive-through facility.”

The plan doesn't want to bring suburban development to the central city: It envisions architecturally unique buildings that rely mostly on pedestrian traffic generated in large part by people visiting and living in Harrison Square and other housing projects that officials hope will follow.

“Around the Square” also seeks to preserve and improve the Broadway corridor and to protect homes by extending the West Central neighborhood's historic district east to Fairfield Avenue and Ewing Street. Should that occur, owners would need city approval before making significant external changes to their homes."


"The success of Harrison Square itself will determine to what degree developers will be willing to incur added expenses simply to be nearby. But, for now, the public and private sectors are struggling with the problem of how to improve downtown without scaring off the private investment needed to make it happen.

But, given recent history, it's a nice problem to have."
Original DFWB post:
West End Harrison Square Properties Bought