Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Questions (and Answers) on 350 North

(picture of DC townhomes)

Friends and Neighbors,

I've recently been asked quite a few questions about the NHS project on 350 North between 600 and 700 East. I'd like to provide you with some information and update your information.

Question #1: Who is the developer?

Answer: Neighborhood Housing Services of Provo, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization which works towards revitalizing the 5 pioneer neighborhoods of Provo.

Question #2: Is the City building this?

Answer: No. NHS is an independent organization which is guided by an Executive Director and a Board (several of our neighbors are on that board).

Question #3: How is the City involved?

Answer: The city often supports the efforts of NHS through loan programs to encourage owner occupancy, or by funding the costs of the NHS purchase rehabilitations.

Question #4: Does current zoning allow NHS to build something different on 350 North?

Answer: No, current zoning does not. Anything NHS wants to build will have to be reviewed by the Neighborhood, the Planning Commission, and approved by the City Council. NHS will have to ask for a rezone of the specific area they want to redevelop. Public Hearings will be held to allow neighborhood input.

Question #5: Is this "spot-zoning"?

Answer: Yes, Provo City has a specific ordinance which allows the use of "spot-zones" in a re-development situation. These are called "PRO" zones.

Question #6: Is NHS going to ask for approval of their initial plans?

Answer: No. The plans were not what the neighborhood wanted, so they have gone back to the drawing board (literally).

Question #7: What is happening now?

Answer: NHS has asked several people within the neighborhood to work on the plans as a "design committee." Rose Rowberry, Jeff Marvolo, Charmaine Thompson, Georgia Solorzano, Carol Wilson and myself are on that committee. Our goal is to create a design that is going to accomplish what we want as a neighborhood. We have finished up the site plan for both sides of the street, and are now working on floor plan and exterior design details. Currently, we are looking at using Townhomes (3 different sizes/floorplans) which have front porches. Both sides of the street will have some community green space. We are being helped in this process by David Gardner, Kent Walker & his assistants from WPA architecture, and by the NHS Executive Director Sharlene Behunin. Sharlene helps us with the finances of the project, David guides us on design and "what will sell," and of course, Kent Walker puts our concepts onto paper.

Question #8: Why should we do anything?

Answer: We don't have to do anything to the property, but an examination of the subject property shows us that the project is worthy of our consideration. NHS has purchased 3 homes on the north side of the street, all of which have been poorly maintained rentals for many years. They are small, and in tough shape. On the south side they own 3 other properties, including a brick bungalow which "morphed" into a 5 plex, a small white shack, and a Postwar home which has been divided into a duplex. None of these homes has been owner occupied in recent years, but anything NHS does would be. Deed restrictions, and the development agreement would stipulate that, and give the city power to enforce it.

You will each have the chance to take a look at the plans, and the details. I hope you will take advantage of that opportunity.


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