Growth in neighboring Brooklyn fueled by Gate station

Growth in neighboring Brooklyn fueled by Gate station
Rendering of a proposed GATE station at the corner of Park and Forest Streets.

GATE Petroleum Co.’s proposal to buy a 1.87-acre block delineated by Park Street, Forest Street, Edison Avenue and Chelsea Street, can now move full steam ahead.

At the June 23 appeal meeting heard by the Downtown Investment Authority (DIA), the board decided 5-2 to deny the appeal, filed by Kay Ehas, against the April 21 decision by the Downtown Development Review Board (DDRB) to approve the project. Only board members Oliver Barakat and Brenna Durden voted against the motion to deny Ehas’ appeal.

Ehas, of Riverside, opposed the gas station and convenience store on the grounds one of the six deviations sought was not compatible with the Downtown Business Investment and Development (BID) plan, which calls for building facades to be built to the street, rather than be set back, as is the plan for the GATE station.

Durden said she could not support the current site plan because she felt it did not meet one of the seven redevelopment goals of the BID, which addresses walkability, bike-ability and connectivity to adjacent neighbors.

The development of the 6,401-square-foot GATE convenience store and gas station includes a car wash along Forest Street, 20 fueling stations, vacuum stations, outdoor seating and 26 parking spaces at 436 and 444 Park St. It was first approved conceptually March 10 by the DDRB, which operates under the Downtown Investment Authority with authority staff support.

Proposed changes from the DDRB for GATE to consider included adding a pedestrian path through the station’s canopy and rotating it 90 degrees to align with Forest Street, as well as consider exits on Forest Street for the car wash or the station.

GATE went through an extensive workshop with the DDRB on March 24, according to Misty Skipper, GATE vice president of marketing and communication. “Many items were discussed at the workshop,” she said. “As a result of those discussions, we did modify some items in our site plan, including adding signage to identify pedestrian entrances, reducing the number of curb cuts (exits) on Park Street [from three to one], etc.”

For other items, discussions resulted in an agreement that they were not necessary and/or feasible. For example, Florida Department of Transportation will not permit curb cuts (exits) on Forest Street due to its proximity to the I-95/I-10 exit immediately adjacent to the site, said Skipper. “Ultimately, GATE came back to the DDRB with a final plan that addressed the questions and concerns, leading to the DDRB’s unanimous approval of the project on April 21,” she said.

Once construction begins, the store could be open for business about six months later. The project architect is ELM (Ervin Lovett Miller) and the engineer is Prosser.

“We’re proud of the new design with outdoor seating and a kitchen area for food preparation,” said Skipper.

With the approval by the DIA to uphold the DDRB’s approval, GATE can proceed with purchase of the property for the proposed gas station, which is owned by Ware Family Realty LLC. It was once the site of the popular Two Doors Down restaurant, which shut its doors in November 2015 in anticipation of losing its lease for this sale. Another business formerly on the site was Printing and Promotional Partners, which moved to 6320 St. Augustine Rd.

The Johnstone Supply operation in the 400 block of Park Street moved one block south, where the company has a branch. Johnstone Supply is owned by The Ware Group.

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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