Letter to the Editor
Town center idea bad
The May 18 Planning Commission Meeting Agenda has a seemingly innocuous item (No. 7), which was a hot item about a year ago and was usually referred to as “West of Village Veterinary and to the East of the former Phillips 66 on Kingston Pike.”
Actually the project is an attempt to create BOMA’s obsession for a “Town Center,” which the city in it’s first 30 years neglected to plan for and is now desperate to make happen.
Then for the last year this project virtually dropped out of sight, possibly due to staff concerns with parking, signage and, I think, site engineering concerns. Major concerns of the residents of Farragut centered around traffic worsening for four four-story buildings (five if you include the parking deck on top of the fourth floor), especially during the morning, noon and evening traffic congestion.
Let me summarize negatives:
1. The subject of parking for these monoliths is the best example of confused, non-professional double talk, even for a municipal project (yes, it is as much a municipal project as it is a developer’s). BOMA staff starts out with parking requirements of one parking space per 500 square feet of gross floor area on the second floor and 750 square feet for the third and fourth floors. Staff then shifts to 1.5 parking spaces per unit (2.25 initially, to 1.75 to the current 1.5). What is a unit?
Are they saying a unit is an apartment and its the same for a studio as it is for a four room apartment? Maybe a renter could make a deal with someone with a .5 space to add to his 1.5 to have room for his two cars. Are parking spaces assigned or do you drive around till you find a spot? What about this reference to shared parking in one of staff’s reports? What if you find a place to park on the second floor and your apartment is on the fourth floor? Do you carry the groceries up two flights? I don’t see any references to elevators. Also, what is this I see about condominiums.
2. Rush hour traffic makes the Kingston Pike–Campbell Station Road intersection one of the worst in the city presently. Farragut’s captive traffic consultant admits in their report to the city that this project will have some adverse impacts. Among their recommendations is the ever popular solution of adding traffic light(s), restriping lanes and even a speed hump. The fact of the matter is, of course it’s going to have an adverse impact and there is little that can realistically be done without prohibitive street realignment.
3. Don’t we have enough empty retail shops with easy drive-right-up convenience scattered around the city without adding more shops from four large buildings with more than likely parking and traffic problems?
My l hope is that BOMA will take an objective look at this project. It’s not too late to say, wait a minute --- this is not a town center---it’s a five story — four building problematic apartment complex. Think how much more this project would represent Farragut as a two story max, garden apartment development with minimal (compared to the present plan) traffic impact, yet still helping the goal of increasing the availability of apartments and helping density goals of the city.
Farragut already has the beginning of what most people think of as a town center. It has City Hall, a post office and a new multi-purpose complex in the old Silver Spoon location. Can’t we build on that real town center concept and stop this wrong project? It takes a huge amount of belief in one’s self to publicly reverse what you previously proclaimed to your residents as a desirable action and start over, but I am sure there must be some members of the [Planning] Commission that privately are not convinced that this project is a town center. Please stand up and say so.