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Council names official height restrictions for downtown.

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Six Stories Top Of Line Downtown

Council OKs Height Restrictions For Buildings In City's Center

By Dan Craft

The Morning News

Dickson Street in Fayetteville is seen from the roof of the Walton Arts Center on Tuesday.

Zac Lehr, The Morning News

FAYETTEVILLE -- City leaders approved height restrictions for downtown Fayetteville buildings Tuesday night.

The Fayetteville City Council amended the city code to require that new buildings in the downtown area be no taller than six stories or 84 feet, whichever is less.

Buildings already standing or approved will be grandfathered in, and future buildings seeking additional height can apply for variances.

The changes are intended to preserve the historic image of the Dickson Street area, said council member Lioneld Jordan.

"There are certain places where taller buildings may be compatible; but, in our downtown area, I don't believe it is," Jordan said.

The restrictions apply to C-3 commercial zoning, which is in place only along Dickson Street and a small portion of Joyce Avenue, said Kit Williams, city attorney.

Buildings more than four stories' tall would require a step-back of the facade above the fourth story.

"Taller buildings will canyonize Dickson Street. The views would be ruined," said resident Fran Alexander.

City leaders had to balance aesthetics and quality of life issues with the desire for infill development and high density in the center of town, said council member Kyle Cook.

"We can create density with a six-story building, and there are some people that think even that is too tall," Cook said. "Anything taller just isn't right in an historic area like downtown."

Two council members rejected the idea, saying taller buildings will bring higher density, more foot traffic and more tax revenue without hurting the character of the area.

"When we talk about the character of Fayetteville, I guess my view is more eclectic, a little different," said council member Bobby Ferrell. "We want to bring infill development into downtown, and to do that and get any density, we have to go vertical."

Increased density will benefit merchants in the area, said council member Robert Reynolds, who owns Roger's Tavern and Recreation Hall on Dickson Street.

"For the last eight years, we have fought for our lives down there for business," Reynolds said. "However we can bring people down there to walk the street and do business with our merchants is a big plus for Dickson Street."

Both Ferrell and Reynolds voted against the height restriction.

Two condominium projects already under way -- the nine-story Lofts at Underwood's and the seven-story Legacy -- will not be affected by the changes. Another project, the 10-story Divinity, was tabled by city planners Monday night.

Original Article

My thoughts: It seems like it's a pretty loose restriction if they're already saying variances can be applied for, but I'm sure those variances won't come easy, seeing how the council has behaved lately. I'm on Ferrel's side... they say they want business there, then they make rules that go directly against promoting business growth. Not the smartest method.

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I'm not sure how I lean on this. I see the points of the pro-6-story-limit chairmen. Then again, Fayetteville is in the making of become the next big city with skyscrapers (after Little Rock), and this move will stifle it....

I'm just going to say I'm undecided.

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I'm not sure how I lean on this. I see the points of the pro-6-story-limit chairmen. Then again, Fayetteville is in the making of become the next big city with skyscrapers (after Little Rock), and this move will stifle it....

I'm just going to say I'm undecided.

The 6 story limit actually applies only to a very, very small portion of Fayetteville--specifically Dickson Street and a some small parcels of land along Joyce Street (not the Bellafonte highrise development). It's really not an attempt to stifle growth of any kind, rather an attempt to protect the intimate character and charm of Dickson Street and the historical neighborhoods in the downtown area. Note that a mere 2-3 blocks South of Dickson Street the Rennaissance hotel (16-18 stories) has been approved and welcomed with open arms. The 6 story height limit is also in keeping with the Downtown Master Plan that was crafted by Dover-Kohl based on citizen input.

Believe me, I'm as divided as anyone on this issue--and this decision by the council directly impacts me. Oh what a very fine line there is between well-managed growth and being anti-business/development! :lol:

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I'm not sure how I lean on this. I see the points of the pro-6-story-limit chairmen. Then again, Fayetteville is in the making of become the next big city with skyscrapers (after Little Rock), and this move will stifle it....

With all the major companies based in NWA, I'm surprised Fayetteville doesn't already have some pretty tall buildings. I'm surprised companies like Wal-Mart haven't decided to build an office tower and relocate their corporate offices to it.

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I'm not sure how I lean on this. I see the points of the pro-6-story-limit chairmen. Then again, Fayetteville is in the making of become the next big city with skyscrapers (after Little Rock), and this move will stifle it....

I'm just going to say I'm undecided.

I think 10 stories would've been a perfect limit. Maybe allow an extra two stories for historically integrated buildingswith ground floor retail like the a couple of Moses Tuckers' projects in LR.

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I also agree more with 10 stories myself too. 6 stories just seems a bit too low in my opinion. But I will admit at least there are some openings for some possible developments that are higher. But then again good luck getting the City to approve it though. Even if this zone only applies to a few areas of the city in a lot of ways I think it basically means you aren't going to see any buildings taller than 6 stories anywhere else in the city as well. Except for a small area of downtown. But overall my biggest problem is that I think they set the limit too low.

Oh and by the way wasn't that a great photo on the cover of the Morning News? :D

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In the Northwest Arkansas Times article about this they mentioned one resident who though 6 stories was too tall and that the city should implement 4 stories. At least the city didn't go to that extreme.

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Hopefully the Divinity Project can be built in the downtown area, I stil think it's a great building that would suit Fayetteville very well.

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Hopefully the Divinity Project can be built in the downtown area, I stil think it's a great building that would suit Fayetteville very well.

Since it was submitted before this vote it will still be allowed. That is if the City Council ever agree to vote it in. Could be easier said than done.

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The 6 story limit actually applies only to a very, very small portion of Fayetteville--specifically Dickson Street and a some small parcels of land along Joyce Street (not the Bellafonte highrise development). It's really not an attempt to stifle growth of any kind, rather an attempt to protect the intimate character and charm of Dickson Street and the historical neighborhoods in the downtown area. Note that a mere 2-3 blocks South of Dickson Street the Rennaissance hotel (16-18 stories) has been approved and welcomed with open arms. The 6 story height limit is also in keeping with the Downtown Master Plan that was crafted by Dover-Kohl based on citizen input.

Believe me, I'm as divided as anyone on this issue--and this decision by the council directly impacts me. Oh what a very fine line there is between well-managed growth and being anti-business/development! :lol:

I won't be against the height limitation in C-3 IF and only IF the divinty building does get approved. I feel like the project would be good for framing Dickson with the Underwood Plaza on the West End. It could really become that strong anchor needed to tie the square to Dickson. I'm not exactly thrilled about the architecture of the project but then again, the WAC is ugly and the whole street is somewhat diverse.

I really could care less about the neighborhood immediately south of the square. It will have to be collateral damage if we want to keep a core area that is more compatible with pedestrian traffic. Planning commission should give a little forethought to adeqate facilities before approving ANYTHING else at Joyce and College - that area is horribly congested. Wouldn't it be lovely idea to allow developers to build more freely downtown than cut their feet out from under them by approving big box after big box by the mall?

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Also, from what I understand, this effects only C-3 zoning. So Dickson street and a few areas around town. The square area is zoned C-4, and the height limits on that are 12 stories I think.

All existing buildings that are under construction or have come through the planning commission will be grandfathered in.

The mountain Inn project was approved at 16 stories last year, but the hotel company has suggested that they add more rooms to the project. This is going to add 2 stories to the building making it 18. In order for this to happen it is going to have to go back through the PC/Council. So now I am getting worried about that.

Also out on Joyce, Proctor and Gamble own land across from Bellafont. They are supposed to build a new building on the property in the near future. I hope they weren't planning on anything over 6 stories, or they might have to fight the city. I just don't want to loose another company to Rogers/Bentonville because of the City Council.

It seems that the only people on the council who know what they are doing is Swifty Reynolds and Bobby Ferrell, IMO.

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The mountain Inn project was approved at 16 stories last year, but the hotel company has suggested that they add more rooms to the project. This is going to add 2 stories to the building making it 18. In order for this to happen it is going to have to go back through the PC/Council. So now I am getting worried about that.

Apparently there is some kind of loophole regarding projects that were all ready approved under old zoning laws. A couple of weeks ago, the newspapers mentioned this. They said that as long as the addition to the Renaissance was within something like 10-15% of the original approved height that it could be approved administratively, without the full council or planning commission review. Lets hope this is the case.

Speaking of this development, I am getting increasingly concerned because there is still no signs of construction. It appears that the investors may be waiting for a final resolution of the lawsuits over TIF financing before proceeding with the project. I just hope that this project can go forward regardless of how the lawsuits play out. I've heard whisperings that a reduction in TIF financing coupled with the potential Divinity hotel just down the hill could make the Renaissance project too unattractive to investors. I'm curious to see how this will play out--especially given the city's deep involvement with the land for this project. I also remember reading that as part of the land agreement the city stipulated that construction was to be completed on the Renaissance project by fall '07--which certainly doesn't appear feasible right now.

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Thankfully C-3 is just right along Dickson. I think that is a good thing. The divinity may be able to pull the location off being right at the top of the hill but you don't want to see a lot of big buildings towering over the small bars right along Dickson. Put the big buildings off the street and leave Dickson alone. Exactly like the Legacy building. Once again, Divinity is fine and I like the Underwood lofts, just nothing else. Speaking of Divinity I wonder what the new proposal is going to look like. They said they were heading back to the drawing boards. Hopefully it will be even more terraced off the street. Then maybe it will get approved!

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Also, from what I understand, this effects only C-3 zoning. So Dickson street and a few areas around town. The square area is zoned C-4, and the height limits on that are 12 stories I think.

All existing buildings that are under construction or have come through the planning commission will be grandfathered in.

The mountain Inn project was approved at 16 stories last year, but the hotel company has suggested that they add more rooms to the project. This is going to add 2 stories to the building making it 18. In order for this to happen it is going to have to go back through the PC/Council. So now I am getting worried about that.

Also out on Joyce, Proctor and Gamble own land across from Bellafont. They are supposed to build a new building on the property in the near future. I hope they weren't planning on anything over 6 stories, or they might have to fight the city. I just don't want to loose another company to Rogers/Bentonville because of the City Council.

It seems that the only people on the council who know what they are doing is Swifty Reynolds and Bobby Ferrell, IMO.

I wouldn't think they'd deny buildings on height for anything that's going be near the Bellafont development. It'd probably look strange if those were the only tall buildings there in the future.

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