Upscale condo plan draws vocal crowd to joint commission hearing in Eureka Springs

Friday, November 17, 2006

EUREKA SPRINGS -- A majority of the 29 persons present for a public hearing Tuesday night were opposed to the idea of construction of a number of upscale condominium-type structures between Glenn Avenue (Ellis Grade) and Spring Street down hill from the Crescent Hotel, with most saying that the project is being pushed through too fast.

Talks started in June regarding the proposal, and a formal conceptional presentation was made on Aug. 10 to the Eureka Springs Planning Commission, Tuesday's hearing was conducted by the Historic District Commission and Planning Commission so that both commissions could hear the same information and the public could speak to both commissions.

The plan is proposed by Martin and Elise Roenigk, owners of the Crescent Hotel. The couple states that the Crescent, and Basin Park Hotel, are maxed out on rooms, and more rental units are needed to make the enterprise profitable.

The Roenigks' manager, Jack Moyer, spoke regarding the economics of the proposal and the additional sales tax it would generate.

Those attending from the public included area residents and business owners as well as several out-of-town persons, with many expressing concern about the wooded area, which runs in the general area of the old trolley line between the Crescent and Dairy Hollow House.

The city's parks commission has recommended vacating of a dead-end unnamed street with an agreement by the Roenigks that a walking path will be built between Spring and Prospect streets.

The proposed project consists of 19 buildings, designed similarly to Thorncrown Chapel, including single units, duplexes and three four-plexes, ranging in floor space from 950 to 1,250 square feet.

While the units would be sold as condominiums, the owners will assign them for rental by the hotel when they are not in residence.

Starting costs for each unit is estimated at $300,000.

The Roenigks have taken steps in engineering studies to address many environmental impact issues. An estimated 24 percent of trees in the area would have to be removed, but many will be replaced with healthier, longer-living trees.

Street widths for emergency access have been addressed, and the project, if completed will only reduce the city's Historic District historic structure ratio by less than one percent.

Care is also being taken to landscape and add walls in the Grotto Spring area to help both the spring and trees.

All utility lines in the proposed development will be buried.

Due to revamped holiday schedules, the Historic District Commission addressed the proposal at its regular meeting Wednesday night, with the planning commission scheduled to address the matter on Thursday night.

In total, the Roenigks are requesting:

* Rezoning of property below the front Crescent Hotel parking lot and Spring Street and along Spring Street between Glenn Avenue/Ellis Grade and Grotto Spring from R-1 Victorian Residential, to C-3, Quiet Use;

* Vacation of an unopened street;

* A tree removal permit for construction;

* A Planned Unit Development (PUD) of the area for construction of condominium units;

* The appropriateness of appearance of proposed condominium buildings within the Historic District; and

* The appropriateness of parking and street surface appearance.

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