Council rezones old Obici site

Published 10:11 pm Wednesday, May 15, 2013

City Council voted Wednesday to rezone a 25-acre piece of property at 1900 N. Main St. to make it more marketable to potential developers.

The former location of Louise Obici Memorial Hospital has sat empty since the hospital moved to its current site on Godwin Boulevard. The building was demolished in 2004, and the city purchased the lot in 2005. The city’s Economic Development Authority now owns it.

Until Wednesday, the zoning had been for a mixed-use development, which was related to a failed effort to develop the site by an investment company. The zoning had a specific master plan attached and therefore was less marketable, because potential buyers would have had to go through the rezoning process, city officials said Wednesday.

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“It begins to add some complications to our sales efforts,” said Kevin Hughes, director of Economic Development for the city. “It’s really just a marketing step for us to take.”

According to an April 2 letter to Hughes from Kroger Limited Partnership, which was among recent correspondence from City Manager Selena Cuffee-Glenn to City Council, the city has received a written purchase offer to obtain the site for a Kroger Marketplace store. Hughes did not directly address the offer at Wednesday’s meeting, but he told council members the city is not currently negotiating with anyone for the site.

“We want to make sure it continues the positive development,” Hughes said, adding the EDA hopes to find businesses that are not currently in the surrounding area to locate there.

The EDA and City Council agreed the main entrance to the site would align with the current Northgate Lane, a residential street, on the west side of the street. A traffic signal will be placed there once the site is developed.