News and Tribune

November 5, 2012

Summit Springs development in New Albany postponed

By DANIEL SUDDEATH
daniel.suddeath@newsandtribune.com

NEW ALBANY — The proposed Summit Springs development in New Albany has been suspended indefinitely, as the city won’t be asked this month for a zoning change needed for the near $30 million project.

A lack of confidence that the New Albany City Council approved of the residential, commercial and office development was the reason the request was pulled, a member of the Louisville firm LDG said this week.

LDG planned to construct Summit Springs on property behind the Burger King restaurant off State Street near the Interstate 265 interchange. The development would include a 104-affordable housing unit complex as well as office and commercial space.

But the proposal has been met with objections by some because it would bring more affordable housing units to the city, and because part of the property is located on a hillside with a steep slope zoning designation.

Yet Summit Springs isn’t intended to be built on the steep hillside acreage, LDG Development Manager Michael Haas said.

“We’ve clearly depicted on our plan the steep slopes, and they’re depicted as a no build area,” he said.

Only about 12 acres of the more than 50-acre site will be used for the development, Haas added.

LDG offered tours of the property to members of the city council so they could see where Summit Springs would be built, he continued. Haas said only Councilwomen Diane McCartin-Benedetti and Shirley Baird took them up on the offer.

Haas said LDG offered to take council members to see the almost 1,000 units the company manages in Louisville, but that no one decided to go from the body.

Without much interest expressed, LDG decided against pursuing a request that the property be deemed a planned unit development district, or PUDD. Baird tabled the PUDD measure last month at the request of the developer, and it was confirmed this week Summit Springs is at stand still.

“We didn’t feel real confident, so we withdrew and that’s where we’re at,” Haas said. “They didn’t show a whole lot of interest in learning about our proposed development.”

The proposal received a favorable recommendation of 6-2 from the New Albany Plan Commission before sending the PUDD measure to the council. As the council liaison on the board, Baird voted against the request when it came before the plan commission.

She said she had concerns about the stabilization of the hill.

Earlier this week, Baird said she hadn’t discussed Summit Springs with the other council members, but had received complaints from residents that live near the development site.

“I had been getting emails from people that were opposed to it, and I was going to bring those to the council meeting” and have them read into the minutes, she said.

The project was to include an extension of Daisy Lane, as a change to the design restricted traffic from being able to access the development through Fawcett Hill Road.

Haas said LDG was proposing to use tax-increment financing revenue in partnership with the city for the extension of Daisy Lane. Mayor Doug England was receptive to the plan, but Haas declined to comment on how Mayor Jeff Gahan’s administration has responded to the proposal.

“Right now it’s impossible” for a retailer to locate to the property and be able to foot a multi-million dollar road project, Haas said.

It’s “to be determined” if LDG will continue to pursue Summit Springs in New Albany, he continued. The project failed to garner the support of the New Albany Redevelopment Commission last year when LDG asked that the body provide a favorable recommendation for Summit Springs when it was considered for state tax credits.

The Indiana Housing and Community Development Agency turned down LDG’s request, and Haas said it’s also “to be determined” whether the firm will seek tax credits this year.

Summit Springs was also to include space for a hotel, bank and restaurant. Haas said LDG builds solid housing units equipped with amenities such as pools and libraries.

“We are extremely proud of what we offer our tenants,” he said.

The offer stands to the council if any of its members wish to tour one of LDG’s facilities or the property where Summit Springs would be located, Haas said.

Summit Springs would increase the tax base and spur economic development in New Albany, he continued.

“It would have a tremendous, positive impact on the community,” Haas said.