Opposition to Southbank development gets second set-back

The proposed 13-story apartment project by Ventures Development Group cleared a big hurdle last month when the Downtown Investment Authority approved the final design for the riverfront project on Prudential Drive, rejecting an appeal against the Downtown Development Review Board’s approval in June.

Baptist Health and the owners of the former Aetna building had objected to plans for parking and traffic access to the 2.9-acre Southbank property that is between Baptist/Aetna and the Acosta Bridge.

The Downtown Development Review Board had granted five deviations, at its June meeting, to accommodate the unusual layout of the site. But attorney Paul Harden, representing Baptist, said the hospital would be adversely affected by the traffic coming in and out of the property. A critical factor is the proximity of the emergency room only 25 feet from driveway to the property.

Harden argued that Ventures did not meet the criteria needed for the deviations. Attorney Steve Diebenow, representing the developer, countered that the company did meet the criteria, which were essential for the development of the odd-shaped property.

The DIA voted, 5-1, at its Aug. 16 meeting to uphold the deviations with only Chairman Jim Bailey voting against it.

Baptist and the owners of the former Aetna building can appeal to City Council.

With the deviations, Ventures is allowed to reduce parking spaces from 559 to 337; change the landscaping along the railroad tracks; increase the building height from 60 feet to 190 feet; and reduce setbacks along the property line and along the bulkheads.

By Lilla Ross
Resident Community News

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