Clark Gassen presented plans to the LHENA neighborhood tonight that outlined a new real estate development for the property on the northeast corner of Lake Street and Girard Avenue, currently home to Cowboy Slims.
The project, dubbed The Walkway, would replace the existing building and parking lot with a new six-story building containing street-level retail/restaurant space and 87 “boutique apartments” in five-floors above it. Two levels of underground parking would provide approximately 93 stalls of public parking and 109 stalls of residential parking.
In a nod to the ‘Girard Meander’ called out in the Uptown Small Area Plan, the project proposes removing the east parking bay of Girard Avenue and converting it into a pedestrian walkway that would be 22’ wide. Gassen and his architect, David Graham of ESG Architects, indicated that there seemed to be some City support for the conversion and that they were working through the preliminary discussions on that matter.
The site plan shows a ground floor with larger restaurant/retail tenants of approximately 7,500 square feet on each corner of Girard Avenue, one at Lagoon Avenue and one on Lake Street. Apparently a national retailer who heard about the project already is interested in the Lake Street space. Along the mid-section on Girard Avenue would be up to six storefronts totaling about 6,900 square feet. The entire first floor would have a height of 22’, which would allow the users to have mezzanines should they choose, as well as create a base of the building that would be in keeping with other buildings in the area, according to Graham.
The upper five floors would be set back from the first floor approximately 15’ on the Lagoon and Girard sides, while the Lake Street façade would be set back 30’ to allow for a deck for apartment tenants. The 87 units would have a mix of unit types, with a focus on introducing some less common floor plans into the Uptown market. The project calls for approximately 16% three bedroom units, 16% two bedroom units, 28% one bedroom plus den units, 22% one bedroom units, and 16% nook units, which are essentially studios that have separate bedrooms but aren’t big enough to be considered traditional one bedroom units.
In order to get the project in the ground, Gassen will seek conditional use permits to construct a multi-family building greater than 5 units, a conditional use permit for height, and likely a few other standard requests (site plan review, etc.). Graham didn’t believe any variances would be required. Should approvals come this summer and financing gets finalized, Gassen hopes to start construction in spring 2012. While Gassen didn’t seek formal support from the LHENA Zoning and Planning Committee this month, members commented favorably on the project. The group will review the proposal at its June meeting.
As for tenants, Cowboy Slims had a short term lease and Gassen indicated that the new restaurants won’t be like Slims or Drink, rather will focus more on food. The project is using both a retail and restaurant consultant to help design the space and to think through the right tenant mix. Without marketing the project, Gassen indicated that over a dozen restaurants had contacted him about the space, including one national restaurateur.