We have spoken at length here at The Dogtown Dish about the parking challenges along Manchester’s Hull Street business corridor. The parking rules with the Old Zoning (UB2-PE1) between Commerce Ave and Cowardin Ave enabled retail without off-street parking requirements. But those same rules did not allow restaurants, food service businesses, grocery stores or any form of new construction without nearly impossible to achieve off-street parking requirements. The rules were so onerous, for every new building that was renovated, the owner would need to tear down an adjoining building to meet the off street parking rules. No one wanted that, including the city.
So after a large number of public meetings, presentations at the Hull Street Merchants Association/Manchester Alliance, and a Planning Commission hearing, City council finally took up the vote this past Monday. And luckily for Hull Street, City Council unanimously approved the zoning change for Hull Street from UB-2 to B-5.
The new B-5 Zoning accomplishes two primary objectives. First, it relaxes the parking requirements in virtually all circumstances including the off-street parking rules for restaurants and grocery stores. Secondly, in the search for more density, the maximum building height for the corridor has been raised to five stories from three. The hope in this second part is that where it may not have made economic sense to erect a new three story building on a small vacant lot (and Hull Street has lots of these), perhaps it will make economic sense to erect a 5 story building. Generally speaking, the taller the building, the higher the probability a developer or bank will get comfortable with the economic returns to proceed with a potential project.
While it may not sound sexy or attention grabbing, this simple zoning change is perhaps the single most important thing to happen to Hull Street in 50+ years given the ripple effects it can have for the area. Credit is due to the City of Richmond, Mayor Stoney, City Council, Councilwoman Ellen Robertson, and Mark Olinger’s leadership on the matter.
Thank you City Hall-Hull Street is now officially open for business!