The proposed Water Street Inn expansion project took a step forward Tuesday night.
The Stillwater City Council unanimously voted to conceptually approve amendments to the special use permit to build a rooftop patio and an 80-foot clock tower on the north corner of the building. The council tabled a request for a variance to the front-yard setback.
Staff will work with Water Street Inn Owner Chuck Dougherty to discuss parking and issues surrounding the Myrtle Street prescriptive easement, and bring a proposal back to the council.
The current proposal would make Myrtle Street 20-feet wide instead of 28-feet wide, Community Development Director Bill Turnblad told the Council. City staff finds that to be too narrow.
“We do not believe a 20 foot street is sufficient. It’s not safe, therefore we recommend denial of vacating this portion of the street,” Turnblad said.
The plan moving forward is for city staff and project designers to come to an agreement to keep Myrtle Street as wide as possible, and accommodate an economically feasible expansion of the Water Street Inn.
“I like the project. I like your design and I like the elements,” Council Member Tom Weidner said. “But saying you’re going to build it in the street is unreasonable to me. I’m in favor of the entire project, except move it back 8 feet.”
Council Member Ted Kozlowski agreed, saying he likes the project–and would like to see the tower return to downtown.
“I’m concerned about the street, and I know I’m going to hear about parking,” Kozlowski said,”but it sounds like that is still being worked out and will be brought back to us.”
Kozlowski also asked about noise from the rooftop patio.
“Is that measurably worse when you elevate it? Will we have bands performing up there?”
The idea is to have music until 10 p.m., Dougherty said.
“We don’t know how the noise is going to work until we build it,” he said. “We’ll keep it within whatever the parameters are now for rooftop decks and go from there.”
Council Member Mike Polehna asked about garbage.
Dougherty said the expansion includes a garage area for the Dumpsters to move into. He is also in talks with the owner of the gas station to come to an agreement of a community Dumpster project in the next couple of weeks.
The expansion project is being designed by ARCHNET and includes 20 more rooms, a first floor renovation, a new front entrance and a rooftop patio. If plans move forward, Dougherty said he hopes to begin construction in fall 2015, with the aim of completion by spring 2016.
“We’re very excited about this,” Dougherty said. “This completes that block. It gives a face and and a place to the Water Street Inn that it’s always kind of been lacking the way it’s set up now. It’s going to be a nice anchor for Lowell Park and the bicycle and pedestrian trails coming into town. A focal point for people coming into town down Myrtle Street and it also brings back a slice of Stillwater history we lost about 50 years ago.”
More discussion of the project is expected at the April 15 City Council meeting.
The Stillwater City Council this week will consider a series of permits that would allow the Water Street Inn to expand with 20 more rooms, a new front entrance and a rooftop patio.
To make that happen, the council will need to approve a variance to the front-yard setback on Myrtle Street, a special use permit for the rooftop patio and a height variance for a proposed clock tower on the north corner of the building.
While the project has gained approval of the Heritage Preservation and Planning commissions, city staff is concerned that the location of the proposed addition on the north side of the building is too close to Myrtle Street.
The current proposal would make Myrtle Street 20-feet wide instead of 28-feet wide, a memo from city staff to the council reads. “City staff finds this to be too narrow.”
Myrtle Street must bear two-way traffic, Community Development Director Bill Turnblad writes. Since the street would now be the front entrance and lobby of the hotel, there would be constant pressure to drop off guests and goods there, and even if a 15-minute drop-off limit is imposed, the street would have to be 28 feet.
City staff also brings up concerns about snow storage and the ability for public safety vehicles to access the area with a 20-feet wide street.
“Staff recommends leaving the curb line where it is to keep the road 28 feet wide,” Turnblad said.
That would result in the proposal being changed to a 16 room expansion, instead of 20 rooms.
Water Street Inn Owner Chuck Dougherty told the Pioneer Press this week that he has no plans to move the proposed structure back at this time.
“The planning commission approved our plans,” Dougherty told the Pioneer Press.”At this time, we are not making any adjustments to them.”
The idea of expansion dates back to 1994, according to a proposal to the city, but the downturn in the economy put the plans on hold.
The council will discuss the proposal Tuesday night during the 7 p.m. meeting at City Hall. You can find city documents on this project here (starting at page 77).
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