PATTON TOWNSHIP — Supervisors on Wednesday night were hesitant to broadly allow residential development in one of the township’s commercial districts, but moved a request to do so to the Planning Commission.
Keystone Commercial Real Estate requested the township consider allowing mixed uses in the commercial C2 district, which includes the former Lowe’s property at Waddle Road and Colonnade Boulevard. A Cracker Barrel restaurant is the only development on that property.
“The struggles we have faced have provided us with a clear indication of market demand in the region that emphasizes residential uses,” Alec Pringle, senior vice president for commercial real estate, said in a letter to the township. “In analyzing the residential demand and focusing on the commercial property owned by our clients, we were led to markets around the country that have included mixed use opportunities in their zoning districts.”
The Lowe’s store opened at its current location, at Valley Vista Drive and North Atherton Street, in mid-2006, and the old building stood empty until 2008. At that time, the township approved a new development plan for a hotel and retail.
The foundation of that hotel is still on the site, but the plan never reached fruition.
“That was a victim of the economy,” said township Manager Doug Erickson. “I think it’s more a reflection of what’s happened in the economy the last six years than the site. It’s a prime location.”
Keystone submitted a third development plan for two restaurants, one of which became Cracker Barrel.
Pringle attended the township Board of Supervisors meeting Wednesday night and said Keystone hasn’t reached a conclusion on whether residential uses would be appropriate at the site, but wanted to start the discussion.
“We’re not necessarily looking to create a nuclear residential district,” he said. “We’re looking at complimentary uses.”
Supervisor Jeff Luck said he has no problem discussing the idea, but is concerned with applying the change to the entire C2 zoning district.
Erickson said the board could consider making it a conditional use, that would require developers meet a set of criteria. He added that the township doesn’t want to make the change so attractive that it ends up with residential development where it wants commercial.
“Its greater impact may be down the road 10 or 15 years,” he said, referring to revitalization of older properties.
Pringle said Keystone is looking to balance uses, and place services where people would use them.
“There’s a lot of available space to fill up residential, and we have very limited space for commercial,” Supervisor Josh Troxell said.
Supervisor Bryce Boyer also suggested considering workforce housing.
“But to just turn this loose and say it’s going to be residential, I don’t feel we want to change our commercial to residential,” he said.
Jessica VanderKolk can be reached at 235-3910. Follow her on Twitter @jVanReporter