Grambsch of NIEBNA raises an interesting objection:
This site is in the Pedestrian Overlay (PO) district which permits no more than 10% of the street facing
perimeter of the site to be developed into surface parking. T this site the limit is approximately 60 lineal
feet in total.
The proposed design has a relatively large surface parking lot with a facing of approximately 58 lineal
feet to both Central Ave and East Hennepin or approximately 116 in total. Since this is in excess of the
limit allowed in the PO district, in its present configuration, the design does not meet the requirements of
the PO district.
Staff says this about the code provision Grambsch mentions:
The accessory parking lot does not exceed 60 feet in width (551.140).
Here is the code, which does not specifically address parcels with multiple street frontages:
Parking lots shall be limited to not more than sixty (60) feet of street frontage.
Based on a straight reading of the code, I would side with Grambsch. Further, from my secondhand knowledge of the code's development, I'd think that his interpretation is also more in line with the intent of the provision (maybe there is someone on this board with a more direct knowledge of the development of PO overlays who could enlighten us). However, there may be some case law that requires the staff interpretation. If Grambsch is right, though, I'd think that the planning commission ruling could be revisited.
Overall, though, this building doesn't matter that much. It'll be cheap to put up and cheap to tear down. It certainly won't be as good as it could be, but it will be better than what's there now. Yes, there should be a minimum FAR and if this building inspires twincitizen to organize an effort to enact one, then it will be a very useful building.