Amendment Could Scuttle Roosevelt Development Proposal

By Erica C. Barnett December 12, 2011

City council member Nick Licata plans to introduce an amendment to legislation rezoning the area around the Roosevelt light rail station to exclude the controversial "high school blocks" near the proposed station from the legislation.

Neighborhood residents have proposed limiting heights on those three blocks to 40 feet, arguing that buildings taller than 40 feet would put kids at Roosevelt High School at risk, harm views to and from the school, and damage the character of the neighborhood. They want 40-foot limits and larger setbacks between any future development and the street.

A majority of the council has indicated that they want to increase heights on those blocks to 65 feet, to allow the Roosevelt Development Group to redevelop several blighted properties owned by notorious landlord Hugh Sisley. RDG has said that their development plans won't pencil out at 40 feet.

At this morning's council briefing, Licata said he would propose an amendment that, "we move forward with the exception of those three high school blocks."  Licata's amendment would reportedly keep heights on the "high school blocks" at 40 feet, while increasing heights elsewhere in the neighborhood. Neither Licata's staff nor the sponsor of the upzone legislation, Sally Clark, knew the specifics of Licata's proposal, and Licata did not return several calls for comment.

"[This morning] was the first I'd heard of" Licata's potential amendment, Clark said this afternoon. Last week, Clark told PubliCola, “I just don’t see how 40 feet gets them what [neighborhood residents] want in terms of the future development of the neighborhood."

As we reported in Fizz this morning, there have also been rumors---unconnected to Licata's amendment---that neighborhood opposition to the 65-foot proposal is being stoked from within city hall itself.

The council's committee on the built environment will vote on Roosevelt at its final meeting on Wednesday, December 14, at 9:00 in the morning.

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