Thursday, January 17, 2008

City Planning Commission Receives Updates from Players LGH, RRTA, High

Lancaster General won final approval of its plan to add a 4,000 sq. ft. addition to its College of Nursing & Health Sciences at 410 N. Lime St., from the Lancaster City Planning Commission, Wednesday night.

The city planners approved the action with the qualifications that the College install a sewer module required by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection and with an exception for the usual on-site parking requirement, as Lancaster General shuttles its students in from Burle Business Park.

The planners also heard a very preliminary plan from Red Rose Transit Authority (RRTA) and the Lancaster Museum of Art, who propose to purchase and subdivide a 1500 sq-ft. parcel of land in the rear of 215 N. Queen St. with the ultimate end of giving RRTA buses an outlet to Chestnut Street, and possibly building a parking garage on the current parking lot at the corners of Queen & Chestnut.

City Planning Commission member John Lyons pushed for, and won, a resolution, stating that "It is the sense of the commission that, when a plan is developed, that it include space for commercial space along chestnut and North Queen" - an idea to which all parties seemed amenable.

RRTA Executive Director David Kilmer spoke favorably about the idea of encouraging commercial retail space along the ground level of the proposed garage, in addition to having covered space for buses.

And then the city planners acknowledged the elephant in the room. Tom Smithgall of the High Real Estate Group, master developer of the Hotel & Convention Center Project, presented a video just short of four minutes showing "artistic conceptions" of what the facility will look like when it is finally completed - currently projected for Spring 2009.

Smithgall provided a broad outline of the project's specifications and on the project's progress so far.

Speaking of the representations, City Planner John Lyons said, "When you have this tower that springs out - it looks arresting." He went on to say, "We really want to see this succeed" and expressed hope that the project will also spur nearby commercial investment.

The City Planning Commission meets the first and third Wednesday of each month at 7:30pm in Southern Market Center in conference room 4.