City’s plans concern Lin Ferry Drive property owners

Green Park officials say Tesson Ferry Library site now under contract

By Mike Anthony

Two Lin Ferry Drive property owners expressed concerns last week about preliminary plans by Green Park officials to possibly redevelop that part of the city.

But Mayor Bob Reinagel assured them that any plans are in the idea phase, and city officials would seek input from the business community before proceeding with any redevelopment proposal.

With the Tesson Ferry Branch County Library slated to close in late 2015, the Board of Aldermen recently voted unanimously to approve a motion to schedule a work session to discuss establishing a redevelopment district “to encompass all retail and service commercial, office commercial, institutional public and institutional semipublic” uses from Tesson Ferry Road to Mueller Road as outlined in the city code for the areas adjacent to Lindbergh Boulevard, Tesson Ferry Road and Lin Ferry Drive.

In his Sept. 13 motion, Ward 1 Alderman Tony Pousosa referenced the city’s Comprehensive Plan regarding uses along Lin Ferry Drive, “which encouraged attracting the walking public. However, this has not happened and there will be even less opportunities with the library leaving.

“To encourage this plan …, the aforementioned area should be put under redevelopment, along with the elimination of Lin Ferry Drive. This redevelopment will more effectively control our community’s destiny in the future,” he added.

The board’s work session took place Oct. 8. No residents or business representatives attended.

During a period for public comment at the Oct. 20 Board of Aldermen meeting, Ron Emmenegger of the Lin Ferry Investment Group and Stan Erb of the Hilvin Investment Corp. expressed concerns about the city’s plans. Both said they were unaware of the city’s proposal until after they read a report in the Call.

“… We’d just like to know where we stand with this. If something’s afoot to take our properties, we would need to know now,” Emmenegger said. “I think it would only be fair that the city be fair with all of us so that we know what’s going on …

“I know you have some thoughts for a walking path or something through there, but regardless, I think we would like to know, especially if it’s going to affect basically our livelihood with our buildings and our tenants …”

Erb said he was concerned about the impact of the city’s proposal on his current tenants and prospective tenants. He also was troubled about possibly eliminating Lin Ferry Drive because “if you were to vacate the street, you’re essentially taking our property away from us,” he said.

Erb added, “In terms of trying to lease a couple spaces that we have, we need to know if there is something to it or if there isn’t anything to it because people want to know …”

“… We are definitely thinking about doing something with Lin Ferry. What — we have no idea,” Reinagel later said, noting city officials still are gathering ideas and suggestions. “… What can we make feasible? What can we do that will support the businesses (already there)?”

To the property owners, the mayor said, “You folks are part of Green Park and we’re thinking about you …”

During the work session, board President Fred Baras of Ward 3 proposed sending a survey to business owners, Reinagel said.

“We’re a small city. We have to first of all figure out what’s feasible. We’ve got a lot of wonderful ideas out there, but it takes a lot of money to make some of them happen and it takes a lot of cooperation,” he said. “So we’re just starting this thought of, I guess you could call it beautifying Lin Ferry or redeveloping Lin Ferry — whatever name you want to put on it — we’re trying to do something to make it look nice.”

With the planned closing of the Tesson Ferry Library, Reinagel said the parcel at 9920 Lin Ferry Drive is the perfect place to start the redevelopment of the area.

“We have the option to start with the library building, the big building that’s on that property. It’s under contract with a developer. What’s going to go in there, we have no idea,” he said. “But we do know that the developer’s come in to talk to us, Raven Inc., and they’re trying to do it right. They want to know what we think we would like in there. What would be feasible? What would be most beneficial? …”

The mayor also said city officials strive to make Green Park business friendly.

“… We’re not going to do anything to take your businesses away from you,” he said, noting Green Park officials will keep businesses informed of the city’s plans.

City Administrator/City Clerk Zella Pope later said, “… With Raven Development, we had some of the conceptual site plans for retail for the 9920 Lin Ferry site …”

During the work session, city officials discussed a variety of ideas for the Lin Ferry area. Besides suggesting a survey of the city’s businesses, Baras also proposed closing off the end of Lin Ferry Drive at Tesson Ferry. No action was taken.

City Attorney Paul Rost suggested narrowing the scope of the proposed redevelopment area to the Lin Ferry “wedge,” with future phases to follow. Aldermen unanimously agreed to narrow the scope of the area and to proceed with studying the first phase of the possible redevelopment of Lin Ferry, with future phases to follow.