Lin Ferry Drive plans preliminary, Green park officials assure property owner

City officials will seek input of property owners, citizens

By Mike Anthony

Green Park officials recently assured a Lin Ferry Drive property owner that any plans to possibly redevelop that part of the city are preliminary and would not proceed without input from the existing business community.

Carol Gapsch of Gapsch Bros. Inc., which owns buildings on Lin Ferry Drive, told the Board of Aldermen Nov. 17 that she was attending the meeting on behalf of Lin Ferry Drive property owners.

She said she had attended the board’s Oct. 20 meeting, during which two Lin Ferry Drive property owners — 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.

With the Tesson Ferry Branch Library on Lin Ferry Drive set to close late next year, city officials are eyeing the possibility of redeveloping that part of the city.

Gapsch said, “… Nearly everybody who owns property on the Lin Ferry corridor has been in the investment and rental business 60 years, plus … So we’ve dealt with rental and investment property. We’ve seen the good and bad of it. We’ve seen the problems. We’ve been through trial and error. So we know and have had the opportunity to evaluate what works and what doesn’t work. Our big interest is the value of our property and the integrity of our property.

“… Needless to say, all of this information that has hit the newspaper has caused major confusion with the tenants … The tenants are running scared. They’re wanting to know if they’re going to be thrown out. What’s going to happen? …,” she said, adding that customers also are concerned.

Property owners plan to monitor the situation, Gapsch said, adding, “Even though most of us don’t live in Green Park, we own property here. We have an investment there, so our alderpeople in our district should be looking out for our best interests as well …”

In response to Gapsch’s comments, Mayor Bob Reinagel said, “We are going to include you folks in any discussions. We’re looking for ideas. We’re looking to make it better for the businesses, for the people, for the street and we’re on the ground floor …

“You can assure your tenants, we’re not going to kick them out, and we’re going to try to make everything better …”

City officials eventually plan to “get everyone involved, whoever’s involved in the street and that includes residents who back up to the businesses and businesses, and we’ll be talking to everyone — and looking for ideas …,” the mayor said.

Ward 2 Alderman Jackie Wilson said, “I’m disappointed. I thought we made it clear at last month’s meeting that the business people and anybody else interested (are) more than welcome to get involved …

“We weren’t going to close anybody down or anything …”

Board President Fred Baras of Ward 3 noted that any changes to Lin Ferry would take a very long time to accomplish.

“… This isn’t something that’s going to happen in one or two years,” he said. “We’re planning for the future on that street to make it better and to help the building owners there, too.”

Baras also pledged that business owners would be involved in the process.

“… We need your input, as well as you’re going to get our input on it, too. But it’s a planning stage and there’s nothing that’s going to happen in a year or two,” he said.