Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Cox to spruce up transmission building

Proposal could spark plan for upper Warm Springs Road

Express Staff Writer

    Ketchum Planning and Zoning commissioners on Monday capitalized on a proposed remodel of the Cox transmission building on Warm Springs Road as an opportunity to spruce up the whole neighborhood, which connects the light-industrial area to the downtown.
    “We have a transition zone that we’ve never addressed,” Commissioner Rich Fabiano said. “We’ve got a chance right now to clean it all up.”
    In the meantime, Cox representatives told the P&Z, they will remove all the satellite dishes from the building’s roof—described by Commissioner Deborah Burns as looking like a “Martian landing pad”—by next week. They said the dishes are no longer needed due to a change in signal transmission to the building through fiber-optic cable.

This part of town is ripe for redevelopment.”
Rebecca Bundy
City planner

    Cox came before the P&Z for design-review consideration of the proposed work on its master transmission center on the corner of Warm Springs Road and Eighth Street. The remodel would reduce the building’s size from 3,563 square feet to 2,670 square feet, rearrange interior use and resurface the exterior. It would also add an 8-foot-high wall along the Eighth Street side to hide two emergency-use generators.
    Despite their enthusiasm for the proposed upgrade, the commissioners balked at that wall along with a perceived unbroken expanse of hard surface material on the same side of the building.
    “Realize that you’re right next to the community core and right next to a school, so we need something that looks halfway decent,” Fabiano said.
    “I do think the outside needs work,” Commissioner Jeff Lamoureux said. “But I think it will be a net positive to the neighborhood.”
    The commissioners commended Cox representatives for their plan to move parking from the front of the building to three slots near the building’s rear on its Eighth Street side. The current spaces, as those of most of the other businesses along that section of Warm Springs Road, are in the city right of way.
    The commissioners agreed that that situation needs to be addressed through a “streetscape plan” and a plan to improve the Main Street-Warm Springs Road intersection.
“This leg of our bike and ped system is one of our weak links,” City Planner Rebecca Bundy said. “It’s very ill-defined, especially for walkers. This part of town is ripe for redevelopment.”
    Planning Manager Joyce Allgaier said the city should create a plan for sidewalks and a bike path, and work with the neighborhood businesses to get parking out of the right of way. The commissioners agreed that such a plan could integrate with Cox’s remodel.
    “If you work with us and we’ll work with you, we’ll get this thing going,” Fabiano said.
    Allgaier said the Cox site plan met city requirements, and the P&Z granted design review approval on the condition that Cox later submit revised elevations. The approval allowed the business to move forward with its construction plans.

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