EconoLodge redevelopment review, Aug. 24, 2015

ECONOPOSTPONE

Under one roof. A survey of the EconoLodge’s square footage, measured under continuous rooflines, may help determine if the proposed redevelopment exceeds 50 percent of the property, thereby bringing the entire motel to the new “Village” standards.

The Community Development Review Committee this afternoon postponed a  decision on a West Homewood EconoLodge redevelopment question.

Motel owner Sanjay Patel has proposed demolishing a portion of the building complex on Oxmoor Road and rebuilding a re-branded, extended stay hotel in its place. The new building must be permitted under new West Homewood “Village” codes, while Mr. Patel plans to operate the remaining buildings, which are grandfathered under existing zoning, under the current EconoLodge banner.

Central to the question today was whether the renovations contemplated affect more than 50 percent of the existing property, thereby triggering a rule that would require bringing the entire property up to the Village code. The committee on July 30 already denied two requested variances to the village standards. The 50 percent rule represents a third variance, and one which Mr. Patel could probably not afford to lose.

The fate of the 1970s-era motel is up against substantial opposition from residents and, it appears, the city itself. A hotel across the street was shut down a year ago as a public nuisance for sheltering criminal behavior and remains closed. Homewood, at 8 square miles in area, has 20 motels already, most of them concentrated at two Interstate exits west of Green Springs Highway. A campaign to limit hotels in Wildwood failed some years ago; residents don’t want to gamble on adding another so close to a residential neighborhood and school.

Sanjay Patel presented his case to the neighborhood for a new 4-story extended stay hotel at the site of the EconoLodge. He's seen here with engineer, hotel developer, and resident Nic Seaborn, acting as moderator.

This spring, Sanjay Patel presented his case to the neighborhood for a new 4-story extended stay hotel at the site of the EconoLodge. The proposal has been altered substantially to meet “Village” standards, and is still under review.

At this afternoon’s meeting, the panel spent 40 minutes discussing how to apply the 50 percent rule, whether it involved total square footage, square footage of the buildings to be demolished and those to be built, or some combination. The village zoning code considers any area under one roof to be one building, even if it contains open areas. He wanted to know the roof-line measurements and whether or not the combined roofline parameters for what is being torn down and what is being built equaled more than 50%. He also wondered if the swimming pool, which Mr. Patel filled with concrete, would be included.

After discussion, and with no formal vote taken, the panel called for a new survey that includes the square footage inclusive of all the walkways, awnings, and overhangs. They will meet again in two weeks or less to resolve the 50 percent question.

CDRC members and their offices: Mayor Scott McBrayer, Vance Moody, Ward 2 council member Vance Moody (Ward 2 council member Fred Hawkins substituted at the last review meeting), James Ponseti, Planning Commission member and committee chairman, Nickolas Hill, Fire Marshal, and Vanessa McGrath, city Building, Engineering and Zoning staff (Greg Cobb from the same department substituted for Ms. McGrath at the last meeting).

Audience attendance: 10

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