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Main Street moving west

Council approves concept plan for new downtown project
Mark Pattison explains a concept plan to replace three homes on the west end of Main Street with a single, 12,000 square-foot, two-story building with ground level commercial and eight condominiums on the second story during a Dec. 21 Solon City Council meeting. (photos by Doug Lindner)

SOLON– Main Street may be growing.
Solon City Council members gave an informal thumbs up for a plan to replace three residences on the downtown area’s west end with a two-story mixed-use building.
At a Dec. 21 council meeting, local developers Jim Hauer, Mark Pattison and Brad Randall, doing business as HPR Investments, presented their proposal for lower level commercial space with upper level residential condos on the south side of Main Street, west of Big Grove Brewery.
No council action was taken, but the four council members present gave the plan good reviews. A rezoning request for one of the lots involved, 131 W. Main St., was scheduled to go before the Solon Planning and Zoning Commission Dec. 27.
That happens to be the current address of Solon Mayor Steve Stange, who recused himself from the discussion after an introduction by City Administrator Cami Rasmussen.
Rasmussen said the concept has been brewing for a few months and the informational presentation to council was aimed at gauging support for the overall idea.
In addition to the request to change 131 W. Main St. from residential to commercial zoning, she said, some lot lines would have to be adjusted and a site plan submitted to the city.
The development, to be known as “121 on Main,” came about as a result of recent requests for more commercial space downtown, according to Pattison.
“Two or three years ago, this really wasn’t an issue, right?” he said. “It’s amazing how much it’s changed over those two or three years.”
Since the opening of Big Grove Brewery and Red Vespa, and the improvements to Main Street by the city, Pattison said, a lot more people have been asking him about commercial space.
“The one thing we’re missing, in this main area, is commercial,” he said.
Pattison said the developers knew one of the properties was in foreclosure and two of them were already zoned commercial, making it a good time to undertake the project.
The three houses on Main Street, from Big Grove Brewery to the corner of West Street, would be torn down and in their place would be a single building with 12,000 square feet of ground level commercial and eight condominiums on the second story.
Six of the residential units feature 1,200 square-feett and two bedrooms, while two offer 1,600 square feet and three bedrooms. Pattison said they would be priced for sale between $220,000 and $280,000.
Connected parking for the condos will be located in the rear of the property, with additional spaces in front of the garage doors, he said.
In addition, the developers purchased 120 W. Short St., the lot to the south of the proposed development, to address parking issues.
“We all live here, work here, we know how parking is in Solon,” Pattison observed. “So depending on what would go in the commercial units, we want to make sure we had enough.”
One of the potential tenants would be a gym, he said, which might need more parking than other uses.
He said the developers are hoping to leave the Short Street residence standing, but utilize a portion of the lot for parking if necessary. HPR Investments has already closed on that home, he said, with accepted agreements for the other three properties.
“On your commercial spaces, do you have fixed square footage per unit?” council member Mark Krall asked when the floor was opened to questions.
Pattison said the goal would be to have letters of intent for most of the building by the end of January prior to construction in spring.
“We’ve gotten a lot of interest,” he said. The gym might take up 4,000 to 6,000 square feet, with other inquiries from real estate and investment services for smaller sizes.
The building is designed to blend with older brick structures downtown as well as offer flexibility in the placement of doors and windows to accommodate different sized businesses, he said.
“We want to avoid restaurants– we feel like Solon’s got enough. We don’t want to be competitors to them,” Pattison added. “And also, with the nice condo living up, we have to actually tailor to them.”
The closest they would entertain to a food establishment would be a coffee shop, he said.
“We get a lot of requests for coffee shops,” he said.
The condos, accessible by elevator, will be marketable to a wide segment of the population, he suggested, offering the option to walk to almost all needed services.
“We think they’ll be highly sought after,” Pattison noted.
A condominium association would be established to maintain the property.
Council member Lynn Morris questioned the fate of the Short Street residence.
Pattison said the house was pretty up to date and would be saved if possible, with a potential future conversion to office space.
“It depends on what the city requires of us for parking,” he said. The home sits on a double lot, Pattison said, and it’s hoped any needed parking could be split off by adjusting the lot line.
Morris expressed her appreciation for developers providing adequate parking to the residential units.
“The exterior appearance, you’ve done a nice job with,” said council member Steve Duncan. “That would set a very good standard as we progress west on Main Street.”