Zoning change recommended to allow construction of condos at McGregor riverfront location

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The McGregor Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended a zoning change from W1-waterfront commercial to W2 -waterfront mixed use for the former Holiday Shores Motel property on the McGregor riverfront, to allow for the construction of condominiums. (Photo by Audrey Posten)

By Audrey Posten, Times-Register

 

The McGregor Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended a zoning change from W1-waterfront commercial to W2 -waterfront mixed use for the former Holiday Shores Motel property on the McGregor riverfront, to allow for the construction of condominiums.

 

The Front Street location is owned by Trilogy Partners, LLC, who purchased the property and tore down the motel in 2015. A similar zoning reclassification was requested at that time, but was not granted, as the city encouraged the construction of a joint hotel/condominium project rather than only condos. The site has since sat empty.

 

The commission, which includes Larry Brummel, Doug Reynolds, Bart Knight, Randy Gohde and Andy Fettkether, met to consider the zoning change on April 29. Applicant and developer Michael Kramer also presented preliminary ideas for the location.

 

“At this point, we don’t necessarily have any plans in place,” Kramer said. “Following the rezoning approval, we intend to start that process.”

 

He proposed a three-story building for the site, containing 18 to 36 units—a $6 million to $11 million project.

 

“That [cost] number is without going into site design or planning,” noted Kramer.

 

He added that the number of units would fluctuate depending on each unit’s square footage and number of bedrooms.

 

The homeowner’s association bylaws would allow condominium owners to offer their units as vacation rentals on sites like Airbnb and VRBO.

 

“We believe this type of development provides diversity in the housing stock that’s currently offered in McGregor, in addition to activating the waterfront and attracting sustained tourism to the businesses and city of McGregor,” Kramer said. “There would also be increased tax revenue to the city.”

 

Public space—in the form of a trail—within the private development has also been proposed.

 

“We have [the trail] on the railroad side and going to the south side of the property to the river, then at the peak of that would be an overlook and an accessible fishing pier,” Kramer detailed. “We feel that’s a nice middle ground with the city to try and offer a few benefits to the public.”

 

While she was happy to see the incorporation of a trail, Maria Brummel, chair of the McGregor Park Board, wondered if the layout could be adjusted to run on the front of the property, between the condos and the river.

 

“I don’t feel it would take away from the condos,” she said. “I envision it as an extension of the walking trail along the river. The riverfront is so important to this community.”

 

Although still in the design phase, Kramer said he felt the current layout was a nice compromise to the public while offering privacy for the condo owners.

 

Parking was another concern mentioned at the meeting, with Fettkether hoping trucks and trailers wouldn’t spill over into public spaces. 

 

Currently, 1.5 parking spots are required per unit. An 18-unit building would mean 27 spaces.

 

“We anticipate providing enough parking for the condo owners,” Kramer said.

 

Larry Brummel was worried most about the building’s proposed height. McGregor code limits buildings to 2.5 stories or 35 feet, so construction over that amount would require a variance.

 

“[The height] reflects on the riverfront and impacts other views of the river,” Brummel said. “That might be a stumbling block.”

 

Reynolds encouraged the commission not to get too hung up on some of the noted issues.

 

“How can we not re-zone and stop a $6 million to $11 million project?” he asked. “We have enough vacant buildings. Let’s get something done.”

 

Knight, who owns Pocket City Pub in downtown McGregor, also favored moving ahead because the project could support McGregor businesses.

 

“If we can get more people in town two to three days per month or more, the better,” he said. “They’re going to spend money.”

 

Reynolds, Knight, Gohde and Fettkether voted to recommend changing the zoning, while Brummel voted “no,” a move he described as more symbolic.

 

“We’ll send it to the council to do their job and sort it out,” he said. “We aren’t just going to rubber stamp everything. We’re going to look at it all the way through.” 

 

The recommendation, which will now go to the city council for consideration, comes with several conditions. The structure must include a minimum 18 units and be architecturally compatible with the rest of the town. The commission agreed to allow up to three stories. Additionally, the condo association bylaws will be required to allow vacation rentals, there must be 1.5 parking spots for each unit and the developers will be asked to consider public use of a private space, such as the walkway and fishing pier. At the advisement of city attorney Mike Schuster, a “drop dead date” will also be established, creating a timeline for when construction must start and/or be completed.

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