Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Planners get look at proposed Price Chopper

By DOUG CARDER, Herald Senior Writer | 6/13/2014

It’s 54,000 square feet of supermarket space with a deli, bakery and other amenities.

And it could be all Ottawa’s by this time next year.

It’s 54,000 square feet of supermarket space with a deli, bakery and other amenities.

And it could be all Ottawa’s by this time next year.

Ottawa planning commissioners Wednesday approved a preliminary plat and site plan for a new Price Chopper store to be built at 1921 Princeton Circle Drive. The project, which also would include 9,000 square feet of ancillary retail space to adjoin the west side of the north-facing supermarket, would be built on 10.4 acres immediately north of Orscheln Farm & Home, 2008 S. Princeton St., Ottawa, according to the site plan. The two businesses would face back-to-back, with a delivery truck lane between them.

“It’s the combination of nine lots in what is referred to as the County Clerk’s Subdivision, plus some right-of-way,” Tom Yahl, city planner and codes officer, told planning commissioners. “All the property is zoned C-3 [general commercial district]. Six of the nine lots are currently developed with structures — one commercial structure [Ottawa Music, 120 E. 19th St.] and several residential structures. All the structures and the trees would be removed for the redevelopment.”

In addition to the retail space, the redevelopment would include a 320-space parking lot, landscaping, utility improvements, lighting, stormwater detention areas, and construction of 19th Street, between South Princeton Street and Princeton Circle Drive, Yahl said. A portion of a triangular tract of land north of 19th Street would be used for a stormwater detention area, he said. Staff recommendation was to approve both the preliminary plat and the site plan, Yahl told commissioners.

The new Price Chopper would be owned by the Queen family, which in April purchased Country Mart, 2138 S. Princeton Circle Drive. The Queen family converted the Country Mart space into a Price Chopper while waiting for the new store to be built. Barry Queen could not be reached for comment Friday. The Queen family owns Price Chopper stores in Paola, Spring Hill, Bonner Springs, and two locations in Overland Park, according to a Price Chopper news release.

SITE PLAN

Super Market Developers representatives presented the plat and site plan to the planning commission Wednesday. Super Market Developers is the retail development subsidiary of Associated Wholesale Grocers Inc., which is the corporate owner of Price Chopper and Country Mart.

The store’s facade would be a replica of Queen’s Price Chopper in Bonner Springs, Scott Wilmoski, vice president of Super Market Developers, told commissioners.

“The retailer who is going to do this store owns the store in Bonner Springs and likes this particular exterior facade,” Wilmoski said.

Wilmoski, Arnie Tulloch, senior project manager for engineering firm Shafer, Kline & Warren, city planning staff and commissioners discussed a number of issues during the meeting, including turning lanes to buffer shoppers from the 40 mph speed limit on Princeton Circle Drive, stormwater runoff, lighting, sidewalks, a pedestrian crossing to the nearby Prairie Spirit Rail Trail, the drive-through lane for a potential pharmacy at the supermarket, a one-way lane for delivery truck traffic only and other issues.

Deceleration lanes — 13.5 feet wide — have been built into the project to accommodate southbound and northbound traffic entering the supermarket parking lot from Princeton Street and Princeton Circle Drive, Wynndee Lee, city planning and codes director, said.

“[The lanes] will make access much safer,” Lee said. “Decels allow [motorists] to get out of the way a little bit and begin your slow down.”

The southbound deceleration lane is 180 feet long and the northbound lane is 140 feet long, Wilmoski said.

“Basically a half of football field [on the north side] and the south is greater than half a football field,” Wilmoski said of the deceleration lanes.

Betty Birzer, planning commissioner, asked how much traffic would be increased on the northbound and southbound streets because of the development. Peak traffic was expected to be 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., city staff and the engineer said.

“I think we’re going to notice an immediate increase in traffic with the store opening — that’s always everyone’s hopeful projection,” Tulloch, the project’s engineer, said.

A traffic study projected the increase would be from the current 280 vehicles per hour during the peak period to 370 vehicles per hour, or two to three vehicles more per minute moving past the development during a peak hour, Tulloch said.

The city’s engineer was satisfied with the results of the traffic study and the stormwater detention plan for the project, Lee said.

Tulloch explained the stormwater plan for the development, including a stormwater detention area north of 19th Street to capture runoff before it reached the store’s parking lot on the south side of 19th Street, as well as stormwater detention areas within the supermarket development area.

In conversations with some of the residential neighbors on the east side of the project, Wilmoski said, the stormwater detention plan for the project could help alleviate “the vast majority of drainage issues these residents currently have.”

Wilmoski showed commissioners on the site plan where a combined fire and truck lane would be built between Orscheln and Price Chopper. The backs of the two retail stores would be on either side of the lane. The one-way truck lane would enter the site from Princeton Street and exit onto Princeton Circle Drive on the other side of the development. It would be marked with signs to alert motorists that the lane was for truck traffic only.

“The [truck] entrance is to keep truck traffic away from customer traffic,” Wilmoski said. “We want trucks going behind the store and back out — we don’t want pedestrian traffic mixing with delivery trucks.”

The project also includes berms, 3 feet to 4 feet in height, as well as landscaping to keep headlights from shining into residences on the east side of the development, Wilmoski said.

“The light fixtures only shine to the west — they won’t go a full 360 [degrees],” he said.

Brandon Livingston, planning commissioner, asked Wilmoski what the plans were for the 9,000-square-foot ancillary space.

“We haven’t figured out what this will be yet,” Wilmoski said.

He said the ancillary space probably would not be built immediately.

“We would probably leave it in grass until we figure out what we are going to do there, a lot can happen in the next six months,” Wilmoski said. “We don’t want to build something and then not have it occupied.”

LINK TO TRAIL

In response to questions about a pharmacy, Wilmoski said the plan for the pharmacy has not been finalized, but a drive-through lane is being built to accommodate a future pharmacy in the store. He said the drive-through would accommodate vehicles with a wide-turning radius.

The plan also calls for sidewalks around the property and a crossing point on the west side of the property to serve as a link to the nearby Prairie Spirit Rail Trail.

“A sidewalk totally goes around the facility and connects with the trail,” Wilmoski said. “From an amenities standpoint, we are trying to tie [the project] into the community, and we’re also finishing 19th Street [which would provide a link between Princeton Street and Princeton Circle Drive on the north side of the project].”

Birzer and commissioner Jack Maxwell expressed concern about the crossing to the trail, saying they were worried it could pose a potential hazard because motorists travel down the street often at rates of speed that exceed the posted 40 mph limit. Birzer suggested the city look into establishing a push-button pedestrian light at the crossing and additional signage.

Lee said the city could explore those ideas as possible options. She pointed out the crossing was needed because pedestrians already are crossing that busy roadway without the benefit of marked crosswalk. She said more crossing links are needed in that area to the community’s trail system.

The planning commission will have to approve the final plat and then it would be turned over to the Ottawa City Commission, which would have final approval of the project. No one spoke in opposition to the project during public hearings for the rezoning of the residential housing on the proposed development site to commercial zoning nor at the presentation of the preliminary plat and site plan Wednesday.

The real estate transaction between the developer and the owners of the residential properties and Ottawa Music has not yet been finalized and developers have yet to disclose the project’s cost.

If the real estate deal is completed and the city gives its approval, the developers would like to have the store open by late spring 2015, a source close to the project said.

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