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Pappas seeks ordinance changes for Plaza DeKalb, Cornerstone projects

November 8, 2018

DeKALB – John Pappas of Pappas Development LLC is seeking ordinance amendments for both the Cornerstone DeKalb and Plaza DeKalb projects to better serve retail and professional service spaces on their ground levels.

During Tuesday night’s Planning and Zoning Commission meeting, two public hearings took place at the request of Pappas, a local commercial and residential developer heading up the downtown DeKalb projects. Pappas was not in attendance.

Cornerstone DeKalb

The mixed-use development known as Cornerstone DeKalb, at the corner of Lincoln Highway and First Street in downtown DeKalb, initially was approved in 2017 by the City Council, and has since undergone extensive construction resulting in 51 luxury apartment units on the top floors, and commercial use planned for the ground level.

Dan Olson, principal planner for the city and staff liaison to the commission, said a proposed nail salon, DeKalb Nail Spa, is set to go into one of the retail spaces.

“The applicant wants the ability to have multiple types of users there,” Olson said. “They are looking to do a build out and lease [the space] out to additional nonretail users.”

As it stands now, the nail salon would occupy 1,600 square feet, according to the hearing documents. The current ordinance for commercial use in the Cornerstone building limits such commercial service uses to a maximum of 1,000 square feet. Pappas is seeking an ordinance increase of allotted square footage for commercial-use space from 1,000 to 2,000 square feet.

Olson said Pappas is “close to finishing the [Nail Spa] work and wanting to open.”

Also in Pappas’ ordinance request was an increase in allotted maximum square footage for professional-service use, which includes law or medical offices, according to the request. Likewise, the request is to expand the maximum allowed square footage from 1,000 to 2,000 square feet.

“Would [the ordinance requests] be changing the use of the above-ground floors?” commissioner Vicki Buckley asked. Olson said the petitions will only affect the ground-floor level in both Cornerstone and Plaza DeKalb buildings.

The commission unanimously advanced a recommendation for council to approve the ordinance amendment request, which will be on the agenda at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Olson said.

In addition to DeKalb Nail Spa, retail use already includes Barb City Bagels, which opened in the space in July, and a planned 4,500-square-foot tavern-style restaurant.

Plaza DeKalb

In a similar request, Pappas also put forward a petition to increase the allotted ground-floor service space for Plaza DeKalb, with the intention to provide a wider variety of retail and commercial development.

Unlike Cornerstone, Plaza DeKalb has had a rockier road to development, with a scheduled demolition slated to begin in late March, but pushed back because of a delay in installing fencing along the 203 E. Lincoln Highway location.

Demolition was back on track as of April, during which much of the building was reduced to its framework so it could be reinforced to support the weight of three additional stories for the $6 million mixed-used apartment – which is expected to have 21 units – and commercial and retail space.

Jamra Middle Eastern Cuisine announced its second location earlier this month, which will be adjacent to the building. Jamra’s owner, Ammar Mahmood, said there also is preliminary talk of collaboration with the planned Mediterranean grocery store expected to go into the ground floor of Plaza DeKalb.

During Wednesday’s meeting, Olson said Pappas’ developers are eyeing a potential hair salon among other businesses on the ground level of the Plaza, which mandates an increase in allotted square footage for professional service and commercial retail spaces.

The commission likewise put forward a recommendation to the council to amend the current ordinance allotments from 1,000 to 2,000 square feet.

“[These amendments] would be a benefit to the area, allow for additional foot traffic and benefit the residents of these buildings,” Olson said, adding that the city recommended approval of the petitions.

The petitions will be put to a vote at the next City Council meeting, scheduled at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

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