Retail center progresses

The Fort Dodge Board of Adjustment approved a request Wednesday evening to allow a new retail center to be set back on property further than city plans currently allow.

The setback, which was approved on a 3-to-2 vote, is at the request of tenants who are interested in proposed construction located at the corner Fifth Avenue South and 29th Street.

The Board had previously considered the request at its Oct. 15 meeting, but requested more time to do research.

Dan Levi, owner of Levi Architecture, of Cedar Falls, the firm that is designing the project, said the setback relates to two anchor tenants’ requests for increased parking.

Those tenants were not named.

“Both have said parking must be in front per their corporate business model, as well as minimum parking requirements,” Levi said. “The location of the parking is where we’re having conflict with the design.”

According to Carissa Miller, Fort Dodge associate city planner, the commercial corridor overlay allows for a 5-foot to 25-foot setback, which is used to encourage people to walk along the Corridor of Commerce, which is what the Fifth Avenue South corridor is being called.

“It’s a policy that was identified in the Corridor of Commerce action plan,” Miller said. “We encourage up to an 80-foot setback so long as they meet our requirements such as architectural needs.”

She said one of those requirements would be an increase in green space, such as islands within the parking lot.

“They are currently meeting the landscape requirements that are established in the 80-foot setback,” she said. “We’d like to increase that by 3 percent in terms of green space than what’s currently proposed. We’d also like to have an increase in shrubbery and trees.”

Levi said that would be acceptable.

“That doesn’t seem insurmountable from a design standpoint,” he said. “We think we could work with that.”

The bigger issue, according to Levi, is the parking requirements established by the companies who have expressed interest.

“We have a project that’s ready to go,” he said. “We’re ready for demolition. We have a project that’s attractive with sidewalks and green space. The sidewalks come right up to the building.”

Steve Hoesel, a board member who voted against the request, said he was concerned that not all his questions had been answered.

“Are we getting ahead of ourselves on the committee?” Hoesel asked. “There are questions that need to be answered before this board can say yes or no.”

Board member Susan Hayden, who supported the request, disagreed, saying she felt the developers had responded to the board’s questions.

“I think we have been provided with as much as we need,” Hayden said. “If there are other items the city still needs to work out with them, that would be up to the site plan and city.”