Dave Christie’s Cornerstone Commons development along Johnson Drive at Barkley street has its tenants lined up and is ready to start construction this fall, he told the city council Wednesday. Natural Grocers is still the main tenant in the project that takes up just under three acres where the former Keystone auto dealership was located. The proposal has three buildings and will include four fast casual restaurants in addition to the grocery store. Two restaurants will be in each of the smaller buildings. A representative of Natural Grocers also attended the Wednesday night meeting. The project will be looking for approvals at the July council meeting in order to close on the land and get construction started this fall.
Christie said all of the tenants are committed to the project. One of the buildings will be two-story with commercial office space on the second floor. Christie also said he was able to get a lower price on the land because of council concerns expressed about the deal when it was first proposed last summer. That means his request for Community Improvement District (CID) financing will be lowered by $500,000 from its original $2 million, Christie said. The project was put on hold for several months.
The new plan requires both the approval of the CID and two modifications from the city’s form-based code requirements. The CID is a “pay as you go” plan, meaning the developer is reimbursed for eligible expenses after the additional one-cent sales tax is collected. In the Gateway development, bonds are issued to support the project and the bonds are then paid by additional tax revenue. Christie said he would be “upside down” financially in the project without the CID.
The alterations from the code include removing a planned city park area along Johnson Drive that would have taken up about 40 percent of the land space. Parking will now be surface lots rather than a previously discussed underground garage. The grocery will be out along Johnson Drive with one of the restaurant buildings and both will have heavy landscaping and patio areas facing the street, the developer said.
The other code alteration would require lowering the density: moving the two-story requirement from 80 percent of the square footage to 25 percent. Those changes are expected to go to the planning commission this month.