U-Village to increase parking, retail spaces

The University Village is set to get a makeover in the next few months. The expansion is part of the long-range plans of the site, said Shelley Bolser, a land-use planner with the city's Department of Planning and Development (DPD). U-Village marketing director Sarah Catsandres explained that the expansion was also due to "an interest from retailers to be at our center."THREE STAGES OF CONSTRUCTIONThe vision for U-Village, as outlined by the early design guidance, is to "create hierarchy of open spaces, plazas and pocket parks that are engaging and compelling social gathering places and amenities." Additionally, the proposed expansion will address issues of environmental sensitivity and sustainability.Three additional buildings are proposed for the shopping center, as well as renovations on two existing buildings."The largest building will be on the south side of the property," Catsandres explained. "That will be a six-story parking garage, with retail on the ground floor."The structure will be a part of Phase One, set to begin in January 2009, with a goal of occupancy by November of next year. It will be located along Northeast 45th Street and the Northeast 45th Street viaduct at the south end of U-Village. The standing KeyBank building at this location will be demolished. Phase One also includes construction of another smaller building that will add another 5,000 square feet of retail space to an existing building.The second building, set to be located in the current parking lot of Barnes & Noble, will have two levels of retail use. This construction is a part of Phase Two, set to begin in 2010.Phase Three will begin in 2011, with the construction of a third building at the main U-Village entrance at 25th Avenue Northeast.All be structures will be built within U-Village's property line, adding a total of 422,500 square feet to the shopping center. No surrounding businesses will be displaced.The renovation would also increase the net parking in the village, Bolser said. According to design plans, construction will add a total of 433 parking spots. The U-Village design also includes changes to pedestrian traffic, with proposed foot traffic plans that will increase pedestrian circulation through the village.DESIGN REVIEWThe plans for the expansion were submitted to the city in April, detailing the three- to 10-year project.Currently, the plans are in the first stage of the design application. On Monday, June 2, DPD will have a design-review meeting at the University Heights Center, 5031 University Way N.E., a required part of the first stage of design planning.The meeting, which will start at 6:30 p.m., is open to the public, and Bolser encourages community members to attend to comment on the proposed changes to University Village.After the Design Review Board reviews the project design, there will be a 20-minute portion for public comment."Anyone is welcome to comment on the project," Bolser said. "The focus is on the design, like what might the buildings look like, [or] pedestrian traffic issues."[[In-content Ad]]