EDC okays new Bennigan's with outdoor seating area
By JAN WESNER CHILDS
Published September 7, 2003
ST. PETERSBURG - Bennigan's received city approval to build a new restaurant, replacing the one torn down to make way for a Home Depot at Crossroads Shopping Center.
The restaurant plan, which includes an outdoor seating plan, went before the city's Environmental Development Commission on Wednesday.
The EDC, an appointed board, meets monthly to review projects that require variances or other special permission, or that require city property to be vacated.
The Bennigan's request was unanimously approved. The restaurant is expected to open early next year.
Peter Flint, a spokesman for the Sembler Co., which manages the Crossroads Shopping Center, said the outdoor seating area was necessary to accommodate the state's recent smoking ban.
The restaurant is part of the remodeling and reconstruction of Crossroads, at the intersection of Tyrone Boulevard and 22nd Avenue N. An old Montgomery Ward's and a movie theater also were torn down.
The Home Depot is set to open the week of Sept. 25, and a bank and a drugstore also are planned. Existing portions of the shopping center, which includes Toys "R" Us and Office Depot, will get a new brick facade. The center also is getting more landscaping and pedestrian walkways.
City planner John Hixenbaugh and EDC chairman Michael Van Butsel lauded the redevelopment."We're getting really, really good feedback from the neighborhoods," Hixenbaugh said.
In other business:
WAL-MART: The city will vacate a 20-foot wide street easement and a 40-foot wide ingress/egress easement to make way for the new Wal-Mart Supercenter on 34th Street S. The board also relieved Wal-Mart of a requirement to build a sidewalk along the street, because one already exists. The issues were seen as housekeeping matters to allow Wal-Mart to proceed with construction.
Another matter related to Wal-Mart was tabled until the EDC's next meeting, scheduled for Oct. 1. Juvenile Services Program, a private nonprofit organization, is selling its two homes at 3621 and 3619 37th St. S to Wal-Mart. One of those homes is used as a shelter for boys who have been abused or neglected. Juvenile Services wants to relocate that program to a house it plans to buy at 3023 First Ave. N.
The agency would need a variance to operate such a program at that site. Hixenbaugh recommended against the variance, and several residents who live in the area spoke out against it at the EDC meeting.
The commission decided to defer the issue to allow Juvenile Services time to provide more information, including a floor plan of the building.
DOWNTOWN CONDOS: The EDC granted a one-year extension on plans by Mamdouh R. and Mona Elkhouly to build a four-story office/retail/residential building at Eighth Street and Fourth Avenue South. Elkhouly said in a letter to the EDC that financial constraints had prevented the start of construction. He also wants to alter the project and will present a new site plan to the commission next month.
UNIVERSITY PARK TOWNHOMES: The city will vacate an alleyway near Seventh Street and Fourth Avenue S to make way for the second phase of the Victorian Oaks Townhomes.
PARKING LOT: The board approved a special exception to allow a parking lot for a dental office on land zoned residential at 4300 Fourth St. N.
NEW BANK: The board gave the go-ahead for Colonial Bank to build a branch at 2646 Fourth St. N. The bank would replace an aging motel.
USGS BUILDING: The board approved a site plan modification to allow the U.S. Geological Survey to build a new three-story building adjacent to its current offices on the downtown University of South Florida campus.
What is the EDC?
The Environmental Development Commission is a citizens board that meets the first Wednesday of each month to review large development projects. The board reviews and approves site plans and has the power to grant exceptions to city codes for elements of projects that do not conform. Decisions of the commission can be appealed within 10 days to the City Council. After approval, the petitioner has the city's permission to go forward, although further scrutiny may be required by other governing agencies.