50th & Bryant retail building gets the green light

A new retail building is slated to replace Joe’s Brake Shop at 900 W. 50th St., following the city Planning Commission’s approval in July.

50th & Bryant

Several neighbors living near the intersection attended a public hearing to protest the building’s lack of parking, where 17 spaces would typically be required. City staff recommended waiving the parking requirement, saying a drive aisle and parking space would consume about half the site.

Resident Steve Seitz said he doesn’t think people will take the bus to neighborhood restaurants.

“We can’t eliminate parking and think that that’s going to eliminate cars,” he said.

Others raised safety concerns.

“I watch so many close calls every single day,” said resident Joan Zenisek, who said bikes and cars share the blame. “…That corner is an accident waiting to happen.”

Resident Tom Labree said he expects at least 25 new employees in addition to customers adding to the parking congestion.

“The average home is probably 100 years old. Our garages were built for one car. I have three cars,” he said.

The city allowed similar parking reductions in past years to allow former restaurant tenants Heidi’s and Blackbird at the Patina building.

Planning Commissioner Alissa Luepke Pier explained that commissioners must consider the practical difficulty in requiring the full parking allotment. She encouraged neighbors to consider talking to the city’s Public Works Department about the potential for new parking permits in the area.

John Velie said 50th & Bryant already has plenty of successful restaurants, and said he’d prefer to see a small apartment building instead.

“If we have to take the hit, let’s build some more housing. The city needs it,” he said.

City staff encouraged the developer to build a multi-story building with a mix of occupants, but the developer countered that it wouldn’t be financially feasible, according to a city staff report.

Architect Brady Mueller said they considered building retail with underground parking and three or four levels of housing above, but settled on the retail proposal because they decided it was most efficient and economical. A parking lot emptying near the intersection would cause traffic issues, Mueller said, and underground parking would be economically unfeasible.

Some residents were more receptive to the plans.

What’s going to raise property values more — a brake shop or the new proposal?, asked resident Randall Stoeckel.

Resident Roxana Olson said that as a woman with limited mobility, she appreciates the flexibility of visiting neighborhood shops.

“I think it would complement everything that’s going on,” she said. “…I think this is a really wonderful project.”

At the request of Planning Commissioners, the developer will plant street trees, add bike parking to a blank wall along Bryant, reduce the height of the building to the north and move an entrance closer to the intersection of 50th & Bryant.

The owner of Joe’s Brake Shop, which leases space at the site, is hoping to find a new location in the neighborhood.