The Fremont Planning Commission recommended approval of the preliminary plat and rezoning for the Fremont Commons development Monday, and the first signs of construction might be seen as early as next spring.
Plans for the 127-acre development at the southeast corner of the U.S. Highways 30 and 275 interchange were announced by Nelsen Partners Inc. of Austin, Texas, and Scottsdale, Ariz., in April 2011.
The preliminary plat is the first step for the site that could eventually be home to around 250,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, a hotel, 15,000 square feet of office space, 250 multi-family units, 119 lots for single-family homes, and 150 senior living units surrounding 23.5 acres of community park and a lake.
The first phase will be residential lots on the east side of the site, some retail spots along U.S. 30 on the north side, and public lake-front improvements.
The commission recommended approval of the preliminary plat with a series of revisions on a 4-1 vote. Terry Synovec, Tom Winter, Dev Sookram and Brian Wiese voted in favor, Brad Fooken was opposed, and Kari Ridder, Amber Barton, Mitch Sawyer and Mike Emanuel were absent.
The development will use a zoning mechanism never before used in Fremont — known as a Traditional Neighborhood Design overlay, along with a retail component. The approach implements smaller, more compact lots with an emphasis on open community space.
Commissioners called for revisions to the preliminary plat to clarify street widths, commercial lot layouts, infrastructure specifications and details about the lake and park, which will eventually be granted to the city as a city park.
The absence of that information prompted Fooken to vote against the preliminary plat. He also cast the lone vote against rezoning a portion of the development.
“If this is our only shot at getting it right, city staff has put it in our laps with this many loose ends,” Fooken said.
Sookram said he, too, was concerned that the details be worked out before the plat move on to the city council, but voted in favor of its approval.
“The preliminary plat won’t go past this body, it won’t go to council until these issues get ironed out,” City Planner Rian Harkins said.
Brad Nelsen, architect and head of the Fremont Commons development company, said the revisions will be implemented prior to submitting the final plat.
“That’s the difference between a preliminary plat and a final plat,” Nelsen said. “This is about concept, and all those details need to get hammered out before you accept the final plat, and that’s exactly what we intend to do.”
Nelsen said he has worked with this type of zoning across the country.
The idea, he explained, is about “a sense of place, diversity and connectivity.”
“People need to be able to walk out their door, walk to the park, walk to their neighbors, walk to the shops, without having the need to get in their car every time they need to go somewhere,” he said.
When his group purchased the property 18 months ago, Nelsen said, early planning included market research with national and regional retailers.
“We’ve known and feel that there is a strong residential opportunity here as well, and a residential opportunity that’s different from a lot of what we’ve seen in Fremont over the years,” he said. “In large degree, that relates to the TND attitude of smaller lots, smaller homes, more community open space, and a more affordable product. We expect to bring houses online here in a range below $200,000 and up from there, but to really bring a new product and an affordable product to the market place.”
Almost 20 percent of the development is dedicated to lake and park space, he pointed out. A 10-foot wide public trail will surround the lake.
“Unlike most of the lake-front residential developments in town, or up and down U.S. 275, what we’ve decided to do is give the lake to the community, not the individual home owners, not everybody with their own private backyard and private beach, but this is really a community park,” Nelsen said.
Utilities General Manager Derril Marshall said the Department of Utilities budgeted in fiscal 2013 to run utilities to the site if development warrants.
Commissioners also recommended approval of the final plat of the Deer Pointe second addition.
The planning commission recommended approval last month of a corresponding zoning change that will rezone a portion of the subdivision to single family residential to allow development of four more residential plats. The city council has heard the first two readings of the zoning change, and is schedule to hear final reading on Sept. 25.