King Street Rezoning Restrictions
Might Kill Planned Development
Some time ago, as a frequent traverser of King Street and regular customer of McDonalds, I began to get the feeling that the big commercial development planned on the Lia parcel, formerly Northampton Honda, and before that Blyda Ford, on King Street wasn’t going to happen.
There was a sign, but the sign began to have a sinister lean to it. Time went by. Lately weeds have been sprouting out of the cracks in the parking lot pavement, and the old Honda building has begun to look petty much abandoned.
The project was approved by the Northampton Planning Board last Dec. 20 over the objections of abutter Florence Savings Bank after the board was lobbied aggressively by ex-city councilors William Dwight and Alex Ghiselin, architects of the anti-big-box rezoning which was approved for King Street a few years ago.
But since then little has happened. In May the developer, Berkshire –Noho LLP, eliminated two buildings from the plan. The National Coffee building came out because it was not situated on the frontage in accordance with the new zoning that mandates having buildings in the front, and parking in the rear.
The bank building was eliminated, presumably to keep Florence Savings Bank happy. At a recent home meeting to boost his write-in candidacy for Mayor, Gene Tacy said that the project was dead.
Downstreet.net reached Bill Low, senior vice president of Plotkin Associates, who was doing the marketing, and he confirmed that the project has been withdrawn, and Plotkin is out of the picture.
He told me that the key factor in killing the project was the zoning. “Retailers hate having to put their buildings out in front, and the parking in the rear. I understand what the city is trying to do, and in some respects it is very praiseworthy. But the retailers don’t like it.”
He said that the new owner of the Hill and Dale Mall is deliberately keeping the old building, which once housed a department of Kollmorgen, and a succession of grocery stores because the existing parking lot fronts on King Street, and new construction would trigger the more restrictive p
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