Right after the 100 block of King Street discussion last night, the Planning Commission approved a zoning text amendment that could let some West End developers make better use of the Mark Center site.
At the meeting, land use attorney Kenneth Wire represented the Mark Center Hilton and the Institute for Defense Analysis (IDA), two property owners at the site who have been pushing to have underutilized land around the Mark Center repurposed. Wire said the hotel owners are hoping sale of some of the property, particularly a parcel near a stormwater retention pond, could help fund a facelift for the very dated Mark Center Hilton.
“This corner site, right across from future [bus-rapid transit] station, this is an underutilized site and frankly could be a higher and better use than a smaller ancillary use for the building,” Wire said. “That could create some value to amenitize and upgrade the hotel. It doesn’t currently meet brand standards, it was constructed in the 80s. This sale will be reinvested into the hotel.”
Along with the Hilton site, a portion of the IDA complex in the Mark Center could also be headed to market. The IDA parcel was originally planned to be an office building but never got off the ground. Both parcels were approved for a rezoning that could see them turned into residential or mixed-use developments.
Wire said there’s currently no plan for what will happen with the land once the properties are rezoned, but the rezoning will help the property owners take the parcels to market fot future development.
During the discussion, Planning Commissioners also questioned whether more could be done to incorporate the Winkler Botanical Preserve into the site, but staff said the West End greenery is privately owned.
“There’s an opportunity for that to more broadly serve the community by being more open and accessible,” staff said, “but it’s a private conservancy group that oversees the area and it has been difficult to oversee discussions.”
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