Friday, May 02, 2008
The Drury developer, engineer and architect in attendance last night reinforce the notion that Drury Hotels is a top flight organization. Our assurance that they will be the exclusive owner/operator and that the approvals and improvements will not be transferable is an important victory. As we have learned, many hotels are sold and immediately change ownership and personnel shortly after completion. We are assurred with Drury that they will be a neighbor, familiar with our concerns, long after the project is completed. You should all be very pleased with how the process is working.
We will still need to stay vigilant to insure that the berm landscaping becomes natural and mature as quickly as possible. Having them agree to long term maintenance, replacement and irrigation is a big victory in that regard. One of the advantages of allowing Drury such a large scale project (5 stories) is that they will have a much larger budget to address items such as landscaping, sidewalks, etc. Let’s make sure they do not skimp on this aspect of the project. And remember that we will get a second bite at the apple when the office project comes before us for approval. That project promises to be a professional office park that will serve as a quiet buffer between Chestnut Hills and the Drury Hotel. It will be a two story office building or office park. We will have an opportunity to address increasing/enhancing landscaping when the office development comes through for site plan approvals. Rarely does a residential neighborhood abutting retail zoned land have the opportunity to down-zone the portion closest to their homes, increase the zoning and development restrictions furthest from their homes, and create a comprehensive landscape plan with a zoning and development document that codifies the obligation the petitioner (Drury) has to the neighbors going forward.
This use also sits at the entrance to the Traders Point triangle so it sets an important precedent for the high standard of development that we can demand on undeveloped property going forward. Is it perfect? No. But we could very easily let perfect as our goal give us a currently legal yet objectional use on the site. Being proactive was the right thing to do. Many of our neighbors participated in the consensus process and I hope they will step up and answer their neighbor’s question of why we agreed that a five story Drury Hotel was superior to some of the potential alternatives.
Finally, I want to remind and reassure neighbors that in marketing residential real estate, the most important factors affecting the perceived value of homes individually and collectively are maintenance, pride and curb appeal If the neighbors or a neighbor perceive that this project has the potential to raise their property values, it will. If they believe it will lower their property values, it will. The amenities of the immediate area and the Traders Point area overall are strong and getting stronger. As the price of fuel increases, more people are considering the amenities of a live-work environment. Your neighborhood is within walking distance to the largest business park in the state (Intech). It is in close proximity to one of the nation’s largest municipal parks and just minutes from the airport and downtown. All of the reasons we originally chose this area are still in place. In many respects Drury is a neighbor we can welcome. They will not impact our schools or place large volumes of traffic on our roads. And the neighboring land use certainly could have been a lot worse given the current allowable uses.