Council continues Breckenridge discussion

Christie Smith

Ames City Council continued to discuss zoning for the Breckenridge property along South Wilmoth Avenue and Lincoln Way on Tuesday evening.

The Breckenridge property has been in discussion for months. The Breckenridge Group purchased the land with plans for an urban revitalization area that will include an apartment complex with up to 422 beds and at least 15,000 square feet of commercial space.

The City Council voted on and approved an amendment to the Land Use Policy Plan at the Sept. 22 meeting to designate the Lincoln Way frontage as highway-oriented commercial space and the rest of the site as high-density residential.

For purposes of tax abatement, in August, the council provided Breckenridge with a list of 13 criteria for the developer to meet. The criteria included standards for parking, landscaping, signage and security.

The last criterion requires that 30 percent of the commercial space is leased prior to the council’s final approval of the property for tax abatement.

Breckenridge submitted a letter to the council this month stating that they felt the 13 criteria goes beyond the expectations of the original settlement.

Councilman Tim Gartin questioned whether or not the criteria were in keeping with requirements used for other land developers in Ames.

Kelly Diekmann, planning and housing director for the city, assured the council that the criteria were in keeping with past city requirements and also with the original agreement made with Breckenridge.

“If you look at … what we do for other areas in the city, it’s completely consistent with the past practice,” Diekmann said.

The council had also made a suggestion in August for staff to consider a criterion for Breckenridge to include an easement for a bike path on their property; staff did not add the bike path to the list of criteria.

Trevin Ward from the Ames Bicycle Coalition addressed the council to support the bike path criterion.

“Tax abatement code — state code — allows for transportation projects to be created as part of urban revitalization areas,” Ward said. “This is an essential transportation facility that is not being met by current facilities in the area and in Ames.”

Gartin moved that the council amend the draft with Breckenridge to exclude the last criterion regarding commercial space and to set a public hearing for Nov. 24.

The City Council voted unanimously to accept the draft plan for the urban revitalization area thus far. 

The rezoning of the property to allow for the high-density housing and commercial development is the next step for the city and Breckenridge.

The public hearing for the rezoning will take place during a City Council meeting Nov. 24.