Lake Forest Park Towne Centre to get guidelines

  • Brooke Fisher<br>Enterprise editor
  • Monday, March 3, 2008 6:47am

The Lake Forest Park City Council has commissioned a set of design guidelines for the 16-acre Towne Centre site, which is the next step in the city’s process to prepare the site for future redevelopment.

Former task force chair and Council member Roger Olstad said the Council approved moving ahead with a design study, which was one of the recommendations of the task force. The task force previously concluded a study “Sustaining a Livable Lake Forest Park — The Future of our Towne Centre.”

To implement the design study, a committee comprised of three council members and three planning commission members are currently working to hire a firm. Council members on the committee include Olstad, Ed Sterner and Mary Jane Goss. The group first met April 11 to review proposals from six firms.

The committee is expected to make an April 28 recommendation to the City Council. Since the original task force has completed its work, the new committee was formed to report to the city.

The design study has been intended all along, Olstad said, and was one of the recommendations of the task force report. Olstad said although the task force report has not yet been accepted by the Council, he understands the Council prefers not to do so until the design study is complete.

“I think this is moving along as expected,” Olstad said. “Although I had hoped the Council would have accepted the recommendations of the task force, I can see them wanting to see the rest of the process.”

The design guidelines are expected to clarify design styles, including facade, setbacks and other features.

“When the design study is done, then the Council will be better able to understand the details of the task force report,” Olstad said. “The report did not get into specifics regarding design and layout.”

The draft version of the design study is to be completed in June and the final report will be due in December. Olstad said the process will involve considerable community input, including at least two community forums,

According to the city’s Web site: “It is anticipated that through the development of design guidelines, the more problematic of the recommendations, i.e., density, height and setbacks, will be more fully articulated and developed so that a consensus of the Council can be reached.

“The city council’s desires to strike a balance between exercising sufficient control to ensure that the city’s values and vision are reflected in any redevelopment, while, at the same time, signalizing the city’s desire to work cooperatively with a prospective developer to encourage innovative and well-designed development plans.”

The Lake Forest Park Task Force, comprised of 15 members of the community, including business owners, Council members and citizens, previously worked on a recommendation for the property for about nine months, after the Council agreed the space is underutilized.

A final report was submitted to the City Council Sept. 23, and summarized recommendations after monthly meetings, three community forums and design help from consultants at Berk &Associates.

It may take years for any noticeable changes to occur at Towne Centre. It largely depends on the agenda of the future owner of the center, which will soon be put on the market for sale by the current owner, GE Properties.

While there are no guarantees that tentative designs for Towne Centre will be heeded by future owners, city officials nevertheless do have control over some regulations. The city has the authority to remove regulatory barriers to development and position the site for future development.

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