Proposal for new apartments causing concerns about parking

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LEBANON (March 3, 2014) – The Board of Zoning Appeals in Lebanon could approve or reject a proposed plan to build new apartments downtown.

The apartments would be known as Memory Hall Flats. Ironman Properties would invest about $5 million to create 60 units divided into two buildings along Lebanon Street.

Ironman Properties purchased Memory Hall last year. They believe their new project would take downtown to the next level.

“We see this–the additional apartment units–as being a way to bring more people downtown and to revitalize (the area) and provide one of those seeds to make downtown Lebanon really more of a place people want to be,” said Joe Blake, co-owner of Ironman Properties.

Blake said tonight is the second time their proposal will be presented to the Board of Zoning Appeals. Blake said the board rejected the plan last month because people were concerned about parking issues and how the proposed project would affect the neighborhoods next to it.

“What we’re trying to do is something that’s positive for the community of Lebanon. Now, not everyone will see it that way and I understand that,” Blake said.

Joyce Douglas has lived in the community 25 years. She lives less than 300 feet from the site where the project would be built.

“It’s simply (putting) 10 pounds in a five-pound bag. You can’t put all this parking in the community as an overflow if it’s going to create a hazard for not only the elderly (but) for the community,” Douglas said.

Douglas started a petition and has collected signatures for it. She said there is not enough parking in the area for this and that this would clog an already congested area.

“It seems that the people that make these decisions–most of them–do not reside here in our community so they don’t have to live with the consequences,” Douglas said.

Blake said his team looked over their first plan and tweaked it so that it would be ready for tonight. He said their new plan addresses any parking concerns. He said the city helped by offering to lease 23 spaces to them around Memory Hall.

Douglas said the new plan is too similar to the one that the board rejected last month. She would rather see the developer request more input from the community, take the year to plan, then come up with a better proposal and try again next year.

“We would just like a different proposal,” Douglas said.

The Boone County Economic Development Corporation has reviewed the new proposed plan. Executive Director Bryan Brackemyre said downtown needs these high-end apartments to help attract future business growth.

“There is a need for this type of housing in downtown Lebanon (that’s) attractive to the younger generation and the older generation because they love this active living lifestyle,” Brackemyre said.

Brackemyre said this proposed project would help them continue to move toward becoming a walking and biking community.

If the Board of Zoning Appeals rejects the plan tonight, it fails this year. If the board approves it, there would have to be future meetings before the project becomes a reality. The Board of Zoning Appeals met at 7 p.m. Monday at the the Municipal Building.

Brackemyre said if the plan does not go through, they will move forward.

“We’re going to try to keep on going. I will tell you it will make it a little tougher because you always need that first person to come and kick start something good,” Brackemyre said. “We’re lucky and fortunate to have a developer (like) Ironman Properties that’s willing to take that first leap for us.”

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