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Hotel proposed for Magnolia and Henderson

Jan 09, 2017

Developers of a proposed project in the heart of Magnolia Village have submitted a rezoning application for property at the intersection of W. Magnolia Ave. and Henderson Street.

The proposed zoning change is for a project that would include:

  • 138-room hotel at the northeast corner of Magnolia and Henderson
  • A small number of apartments attached to the hotel, located along Oleander Walk east of Henderson
  • 470-space parking garage on the west side of Henderson (includes at least 150 spaces for public use)
  • 12 condominiums along Oleander Walk on the west side of Henderson, just north of the garage

The zoning change would allow several waivers or exceptions to the Near Southside Development Standards and Guidelines in order for the project to move forward as proposed. The most significant request is to allow the hotel use, a use not permitted by right within the site's NS-T4 and NS-T4N zoning classifications. Hotels require a waiver in T4 and T4N to defend against the typical hotels favored by many national chains that utilize prototype designs incompatible in areas such as Magnolia Village. The hotel waiver requirement allows case-by-case review.

As with all major development proposals in the district, NSI has gathered information and evaluated the proposal for consistency with longstanding planning and design goals for the district. Because of the significance of this project's site, its location bordering both Oleander Walk and Magnolia and just north of Historic Fairmount, plus its relationship to neighboring historic landmarks, NSI has also facilitated discussions with adjacent homeowners, nearby business and commercial property owners, and the leadership of the Fairmount Neighborhood Association.

Based on those meetings and review by our NSI Design Review Committee, NSI is supporting the project and the “PD” rezoning application. An important factor in our consideration is that a PD case such as this would be a project-specific zoning change. The rezoning, if approved, would only allow for the proposed project to be constructed, and in accordance with the proposed design. If it did not move forward, the site would require rezoning again (likely back to the current T4/T4N boundaries) before an alternative project could be developed.

NSI’s letter to the Zoning Commission, posted below, describes in detail several key points of support. Most importantly, we feel that a promising set of circumstances has produced the best opportunity possible for a high quality and contextually-sensitive project to be developed on this site. Those circumstances include:

  1. A property owner who, as the majority owner of the historic Max Mehl Building, assembled this adjacent property not as a land speculator, but as a Magnolia Avenue stakeholder personally invested in creating a landmark-quality destination worthy of the site’s setting and significance.
  2. An unconventional and innovative proposal from the owner and his development partners that would bring key missing ingredients (boutique hotel, owner-occupied condos, shared parking garage with publicly available spaces) to the Magnolia Village mix, instead of the typical apartment complex or medical office project favored by institutional investors that have inquired frequently about the site over the years.
  3. A design team that thoroughly understands the site’s location, context, and complex regulatory framework, while also welcoming close collaboration with the project’s neighbors and the Near Southside community at large, working toward the goal of maximizing quality and minimizing negative impacts.
  4. A Near Southside community passionate about Magnolia Avenue, Oleander Walk, Historic Fairmount, the future of the district, and the important role public input and high community standards must play in creating the best future possible for the site.

On December 14, the Zoning Commission voted unanimously to recommend approval of this requested zoning change. The City Council will consider the request at 7pm on Tuesday, January 24, 2017. In advance of that hearing, we strongly encourage anyone interested to explore the project information posted below: