Two non-profit agencies got the go-ahead from the Ravenna Planning Commission Tuesday to renovate separate buildings in the city.
The commission approved a conditional use certificate for the downtown Phoenix Block in the city's downtown, including an amended plan to make the entrances to the structure wheelchair accessible.
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The panel also approved plans to renovate the former Portage County One Stop building, 1081 W. Main St., to accommodate the Center of Hope.
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Coleman Professional Services was seeking a conditional use permit to put 10 apartments in the historic downtown building, spelled Phenix in 19th-century documents. The plan also calls for three retail units on the ground floor. Coleman plans to spend $2.6 million on the project, which has a scheduled completion date in 2014.
Sean Barbina, project architect from David Sommers & Associates, presented an alternative plan to provide access to the building for wheelchairs, walkers and strollers. At the city's direction, the firm amended its plans to make the sidewalk in front of the buildings more closely resemble Eric Hummel's building a block to the east. Like Hummel's building, the sidewalk in front of the project will be level with the storefronts, with a short drop to the curb.
"It's more consistent with the businesses to the east," Mayor Joseph Bica said. The sidewalk tapers off, but people using a wheelchair would have to access the ramp from each end, he pointed out.
Some residents questioned the plans, pointing out that only the storefronts owned by Coleman would be level with the raised sidewalk.
"I was really hoping more than one option would be presented tonight," resident Louis Dudek said.
Peggy DiPaola said she hoped the city could work with Coleman to get grant money making the entire block accessible.
Barbina said the drop is less severe than people might think from looking at the drawings.
"The intent is not to have a large drop," he said. "the intent is that you don't feel like you're going over speed bumps."
In addition to the permit and the plans for accessibility, Coleman also has agreed to make arrangements for more parking for residents if it becomes necessary. Most residents of the buildings don't own cars, Coleman representatives have pointed out.
The project is slated for completion in 2014.
The panel also approved a small addition to the Center of Hope's new home at 1081 W. Main St.
Architect Ted Manfrass said the addition on the rear of the structure will be the future home of the Best Choice Food Program, which is relocating from Infirmary Road to the structure next year. The program serves 1,200 lunches daily. The food program will have separate food preparation and storage from the Center of Hope.
Though the addition will result in the loss of six parking spaces, the remaining 46 are more than double what the Center of Hope uses across the street., Manfrass said.
Planning Commission member Bill Wisniewski abstained from the vote on the Phoenix Block, and both he and Bica abstained from the vote on the Center of Hope.
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Facebook: Diane Smith, Record-Courier