VALPARAISO — Approval of a proposed $14 million residential development in the city's downtown has been delayed by two weeks.
At the end of a nearly three-hour meeting this week, the city's Plan Commission failed to take action on a 48-unit condominium development proposed to be built at the former St. Paul Catholic Church/School site.
The commission agreed on Tuesday to hold a special meeting at 7 p.m Sept. 26 to decide on whether or not to grant developer Bob Coolman his requests for planned unit development and primary plat.
Plan Commission President Bruce Berner, who asked that the decision be delayed for two weeks, told residents who packed the meeting room there wouldn't be a second public hearing at the Sept. 26 meeting.
"There will be no public hearing but just the vote which will be yes or no and it be forwarded to the City Council. You will get another opportunity to speak at the City Council public hearing," Berner said.
Berner made his statement after the commission allowed for more than an hour of comments and questions, both pro and con for the project, from some 15 residents.
Reaction from residents was mixed with some stating they were happy with the project and the fact that something was being developed at the long vacant site.
But the majority, including resident Sue Brown, spoke of concerns about increased traffic the development would bring, the high number of condominiums proposed and its affordability. Brown and other residents said they hadn't gone to the neighborhood meetings and needed more time to digest the impact of the proposed project since just learning about it.
'I submit to you that we need more time," Brown said.
Resident Jim Jorgensen termed himself a "reluctant supporter," noting the project's exit is almost on his property and will mean a major disruption.
"We support it because it's a private investment and is a continuation of the enhancement of the downtown. We have absolute confidence it will be an excellent project," Jorgensen said.
"I'm not comfortable to vote tonight," Berner said.
Coolman, president of Coolman Communities Inc. of Valparaiso, gave a one-hour presentation on his plans for a $14 million to $15 million investment that will cover nearly the entire block surrounded by Campbell Street, Chicago Street, Academy Street and Chestnut Street.
The condominiums, which Coolman described as "upscale, urban and sophisticated," will include four residential owner-occupied buildings, each with 12 two-and-three bedroom units. Each building will have 10 condominium-style units in the three-story center and two-story town homes on each end.
A price point for the cost of the condominiums has not yet been determined, Coolman said.
"It's been the focus of my company to not just build homes but good neighborhoods which is certainly true of St. Paul Square," Coolman said.