Originally Published: March 3, 2014 6:01 a.m.
PRESCOTT - As the two-year anniversary of the May 2012 Whiskey Row fire approaches, property owners are seeking an interim construction step that would involve fencing and landscaping the empty area.
While construction of storefronts on the burned-out space is still a "long-term goal," according to a city memo, owners are asking the city for a short-term fix.
The Prescott City Council will consider an appeal this week of a Feb. 14 rejection by the Prescott Preservation Commission of the owners' plans for a wrought-iron fence, landscaping, and a concrete walkway through the space.
The combined council workshop and special meeting will take place 3 p.m. Tuesday at Prescott City Hall, 201 S. Cortez, and the appeal by owners Holiday Ventures will be among the issues under consideration.
Soon after fire destroyed three businesses on Montezuma Street on May 8, 2012, the burned-out area was cleared, and a temporary pedestrian walkway was built along Montezuma Street. Since then, City Manager Craig McConnell said, "There have been several approaches to implement something on the property."
Owners Howard and Nancy Hinson originally submitted plans for an infill building on the space, and later for a stone façade. By late 2013, the stone façade project was out to bid, and construction was expected to be under way by February.
But a city memo reports that the cost of the front façade "reportedly exceeded available funding."
That resulted in the submittal of interim plans to the Prescott Preservation Commission, which denied the request in February. McConnell said Friday that owners have the right to appeal commission decisions to the City Council.
Throughout the process, McConnell said, "The city's approach has been to get a win-win on this." While noting that the city would like to see a replacement development on the property, he added, "The property owner has the right to fence it without putting improvements in, as long as it's safe."
Owners are proposing finishing the lot with decomposed granite, trees, and low shrubs. The finished space could then be used for temporary vendor spaces, according to the city memo. The concrete walkway would allow pedestrians to pass through the space from the back alley to Whiskey Row.
Ultimately, the Hinsons plan to build two storefronts with restrooms, an elevator, and an upper story patio space that would serve both the burned-out space and the restored Grand Highland Hotel next door.
"In order to fund these improvements, they are trying to generate income from the property by opening the space to interim use, while not precluding the construction of the storefronts at a future date," the city memo added.
In other action, the council will:
Hear a presentation by Yavapai County Attorney Sheila Polk opposing the legalization of non-medical marijuana, and seeking city adoption of a resolution stating that Prescott opposes legalizing the use of recreational (non-medical) marijuana.
The proposed resolution also states that the city supports public education on the "harms of marijuana, and the proven prevention interventions such as community-based drug prevention efforts, drug treatment courts, offender re-entry programs and probation reform; and further support making drug treatment available to all who need it."
Hear a presentation on the impacts to the city from the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).
A city memo notes that Aaron Polkoski, a consultant for the Yavapai Combined Trust, of which the city is a member, will make the presentation on the "constant changes, differing analyses, and effective dates" of the federal act.
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