The new Citrix building just got a little bit taller, but a request for a parking reduction went unanswered by Planning Commissioners last week.
Commissioners approved a 40,000-square-foot, fourth floor addition to a recently approved site plan for the expansion of the Dillon Supply Warehouse building on South West and West Hargett streets. The warehouse is under construction to be the new Citrix headquarters.
The main point of discussion was the proposed parking reduction of 75 spaces and the effect it would have on broader development plans and parking availability in the warehouse district.
The property already qualifies for a less parking than some similar buildings because it is located in the Downtown Overlay District. However, the additional floor increases the number of required spaces to 400.
Citrix representative Jim Baker asked for that number to be decreased to 325, but said the actual design included 340 spaces.
Baker said Citrix is encouraging its employees to walk and bike to work by being located near proposed transit stops and installing bike racks and showers. There are also multiple parking decks in downtown Raleigh that are underutilized.
A smaller number of spaces will be allowed under the new planning code, called the Unified Development Ordinance, which was approved earlier this year. The code does not go into effect until September.
Citrix has already integrated two additional parking deck levels into the already-approved site plan that can be added to at a later date if necessary.
Commissioner Steven Schuster requested empirical data regarding the number of employees that will be working at this site to help ease concerns about the parking reduction request.
Citrix must hire about 335 employees in order to get state, the county and city tax incentives it was promised.
Schuster said he is concerned that as the area develops, more developers will want to ask for a parking reduction, which would put strain on a part of the city that has very little parking.
Deputy Planning Director Ken Bowers pointed out that the tenant of this building has determined that the number of parking spaces they proposed is ideal. If they are wrong, staff must park in the nearby Boylan Heights neighborhood, at metered on-street parking, or in the parking decks.
The Commission moved to defer the issue to give Citrix time to gather data to support their case, but Baker then asked that Commissioners consider the case without the parking reduction in order to move the project forward. Baker agreed to build one additional parking level to meet the 400-space parking requirement.
Rezoning of New Hope Road and Buffaloe Road Intersection Delayed
A rezoning that would lead to a potential gas station in a residential neighborhood has angered residents and caused Commission members to reconsider what is allowed in certain zoning districts.
Commissioners delayed a vote on the rezoning for a 6-acre lot on the corner of New Hope and Buffaloe roads to give the applicant, Dean Marion, more time to tweak his plans. The proposed rezoning would change the property from Residential-6 to Neighborhood Business Conditional Use.
The applicant pointed out several zoning conditions prohibiting the development of certain uses on the property, as well as limiting the overall size of retail development to about half of the allowed square footage.
“That’s a severe restriction on what could be done on this property from a development standpoint,” said attorney Mack Paul.
Residents of the adjacent neighborhood are concerned about the possibility for a gas station of that size to be developed on the property. While Paul tried to avoid saying that one of the potential uses was for a gas station, a traffic impact study was done for a 12-pump gas station.
Concerns were expressed regarding hours of operation, quality of life, and the lack of additional commercial development in the area.
To alleviate concerns, the developer limited the building height, offered specific types of lighting, and proposed a closed fence adjacent to residential areas.
Traffic concerns were also a point of discussion. The traffic impact study indicates that traffic will increase significantly at this intersection with the proposed rezoning.
Transportation Planner Bowman Kelly said the only way the to decrease the traffic impact would be to add additional turn lanes at the intersection, but that would be the responsibility of the city and the state.
The applicant agreed to put in crosswalks, pedestrian signals, and pedestrian refuge islands. He added an outdoor amenity area to the plan to make it more pedestrian friendly.
Neighbors weren’t satisfied.
“Neighborhoods overshadowed by gas station don’t denote a good quality of life,” said resident Michi Vojta, who spoke on behalf of the neighbors.
She said the pedestrian refuge doesn’t do anything about the increase in traffic.
Both residents and Commissioners had issues with the applicant’s refusal to limit the hours of operation.
Most of the Commissioners admitted to being torn on the project, but spoke out against the rezoning because they did not think it was the right fit for the neighborhood, which is residential in nature.
Commissioner John Buxton said generally speaking, gas stations are near other amenities and services. This project isn’t near such services.
Schuster said it meets all of the standards for approval that were given to the Commission by the City Council, but in the case of this project, he said he doesn’t think the policy is correct.
Commissioners gave the case a 45-day time extension to address the issues of traffic, hours of operation and the number of fuel pumps that would be constructed.