Tuesday was a milestone for Venice Marine Park, LLC, and its vision for a redeveloped Fisherman’s Wharf next to the KMI Bridge.
The 7.8 acre parcel has been mostly vacant for decades. Condo buildings were proposed a couple of years ago but it’s taken that long for the project’s various land development petitions to come before the Venice Planning Commission.
On Tuesday, the Venice Planning Commission recommended approval of a string of land-use petitions regarding the development, called Porto Vista, the proposed 40 condo units in four six-story buildings.
The board approved a rezone of the property from “Commercial, Intensive and Marine Park” to “Commercial, General.” There was some concern that removing the dual Marine Park zoning designation could allow future building over the water, but developer Mike Miller said he had no intention of doing so. The commission unanimously recommended its approval to city council, but left the dual zoning issue unresolved.
Members also preferred the CG zoning designation since it does not allow auto retail or repair shops or more intensive uses.
The commission had a more difficult time with a conditional use application to exceed the maximum building height by 20 feet, as requested. The buildings would ultimately be 65 feet. In the end, they recommended its approval. Conditional use petitions also go before city council for final consideration.
Developer Mike Miller said he could have designed the buildings at 35 feet tall over one story of parking, but there would have been more buildings along the waterfront and it would be less visually appealing.
Kit McKeon was the lone vote against allowing more than the standard three stories over one story of parking allowed in a CG zoning district.
“I’d rather see it not higher than the bridge tender building,” McKeon said.
The good news, Miller said, was you won’t see the air conditioning units.
Commissioner Shaun Graser said he doesn’t usually like tall buildings, but was okay with this proposal.
“This is the appropriate place for it,” Graser said. “If we’re going to do it, let’s do it where they are surrounded with other buildings that (already) have that additional height. I’m torn, but I think this is the best option in the best place.”
It was a sentiment shared by most other commissioners.