Monday, May 2, 2016

Selection of proposal for River Race Development put off until July

Posted on June 11, 2013 at 1:00 a.m. | Updated on June 11, 2013 at 6:49 p.m.

GOSHEN — The selection of a proposal for the redevelopment of two parcels along the River Race will have to wait, as the Redevelopment Commission chose to table the topic for another month.

The commission was to choose between a co-housing development offered by Goshen resident Richard Miller and an urban townhouse development offered by South Bend-based Matthews LLC, or to work out separate agreements with both developers for only one parcel each.

With the public comment period concluded at the May meeting of the Redevelopment Commission, it was the commission’s turn to ask questions and provide their comments.

Jeremy Stutsman first applauded Matthews LLC for the quality of its work in the region but said he could not support the urban housing proposal, mainly because the houses would not blend with the surrounding neighborhood.

Stutsman described the potential housing development as creating an “urban wall” that would block the pleasing natural view the surrounding neighborhood currently enjoys.

He referenced the success of the downtown area when providing his reasoning, saying, “(Downtown) has been successful because we created it for Goshen, not for those we wish to attract.”

“I believe this is how we should expand our historic neighborhoods, with complementary structures and design,” he added.

Several other commissioners noted they were impressed with the quality of Matthews’ homes and believed that if a height limit could be agreed upon, the development could be an asset to the community.

Commission president Tom Stump also brought up the issue of tax increment financing. Noting the situation the city has been put in as a result of tax caps, Stump said the commission should consider the possibility that TIF dollars could be captured from the Matthews homes.

City attorney Larry Barkes said it was still unclear whether or not the Matthews homes would fall under an exception allowing TIF revenues to be captured from certain residential areas, but said the city is working to find the answer.

Near the end of the commission’s debate, discussion shifted to the concept of selecting one development for each parcel, essentially splitting the project.

While both developers proposed to utilize both parcels, the co-housing development would really focus primarily on the southern parcel.

Dave Matthews of Matthews LLC said his firm remained interested in both parcels as well, but added that it would plan on beginning work on the north parcel.

In the end, the commission decided it would be best to give the Community Development staff and the two developers 30 days to discuss the possibility of developing one parcel each, with Miller’s group focusing on the south parcel and Matthews focusing on the north.

The commission will hear the results of the discussions at next month’s meeting in the hope that the results will help to make a final decision for the parcels along the River Race.

Once a decision is made on the proposals, the next step will be to work with the developer or developers to return to the commission with a fully-detailed agreement for their approval or denial.