Thank you to Karen Mayne of the Suburban Acres Civic League for providing the following notes from the Greater Wards Corner Task Force meeting held on May 10, 2012.
The meeting was led by Councilwoman Terry Whibley and Councilman Barclay Winn.
Crime Report – Officer Odell Davis reported 9 crimes in the Wards Corner area for the month of April, including 8 larcenies and 1 robbery; 5 arrests were made. Denby Park area reported 8 crimes, including 1 homicide (suspect arrested), 1 aggravated assault, 1 robbery, and 5 larcenies.
Wards Corner Redevelopment – Work continues by the Department of Development on attracting tenants to the Wards Corner area, including the Suburban Park Shopping Center and the Mid-Town Shopping Center. Two medical users are looking at a 10,000 square foot sized facility and are competing for the same space (southwest section of Granby Street). Kroger has not made a decision on whether it will leave its current space or try to acquire the Work Force Center space to enlarge. Farm Fresh has started renovations and will use the “cold storage building” for construction materials, after which it is hoped the building will be torn down and redeveloped. Mid-Town Shopping Center owner is considering selling the flag lot behind the post office as part of a larger redevelopment of that section. The owner of Guadalajara
restaurants owns the old pub/restaurant building on the southwest side of Granby Street and has approached the City about opening a Guadalajara restaurant in that space. Sufficient parking may be a limiting factor. It was expressed at the meeting that a dance venue (like at some of the other Guadalajaras) would be problematic in this location. The City is talking with representatives of Sears regarding the K-Mart store; there are 15 years left on the K-Mart lease,
but the City hopes the property can be redeveloped. The property is not zoned to include a grocery store.
The Department of Public Works received a very rough estimate on the costs of putting utilities underground at Wards Corner. That rough estimate was $11 million for the area along Granby Street from Louisiana Drive to Tausig Boulevard and along Little Creek Road from Interstate 64 to Granby Street. The general costs run about $800,000 a block (both sides) but costs would vary by block depending on construction constraints. The City Council representatives and Task Force members requested that Public Works get a firm cost estimate for just the southeast corner of Wards Corner (bounded by Louisiana Avenue and Virginian Drive) so that the City can determine if there are funds to move the utilities underground in that quadrant while the Suburban Park Shopping Center is being redeveloped.
Denby Park Apartment Demolition Project – The contractor has started work. Two of the buildings should be demolished by May 11, a third building demolished by May 25, and the entire project demolished by June 8. The contractor will remove all parking lots, remove curb cuts, and cover the area with top soil. The City will put in sidewalks.
Tidewater Drive – The City will be doing pothole repairs along the section of Tidewater Drive between Thole Street and Little Creek Road once the utility work is completed.
Royster Memorial Presbyterian Church had a major fire last week and repairs will be extensive.
Thole Street – The City is looking again at a traffic study to determine if any additional traffic calming measures can be taken. Curb cuts have been completed to drain standing water out of the medians and a landscaping plan has been developed.
There was discussion of changing the meeting frequency of the Wards Corner Task Force to bi-monthly, since community representation at the meetings varies and it is a time commitment from City staff and Council representatives. Civic league representatives were unanimous in saying that monthly meetings are important during this time period when so many decisions are being made about redevelopment in the greater Wards Corner area. All seemed to agree that the task force should focus on issues of larger concern and not issues that the civic leagues should bring up directly to the appropriate City departments.