Grading work should begin next week at the former Imperial Mall site to make way for the first phase of the planned Theatre District project.

Attorney Tom Huston, representing Perry Reid Properties of Lincoln and its affiliate Theatre District LLC, gave that update during the Hastings Planning Commission meeting on Aug. 17 where commissioners voted 8-0 to recommend approval of the plan modification for the Theatre District Redevelopment Project. Commission member Jacque Cranson was absent.

Phase 1 of the project has grown. The project will start with mass grading the entire site.

Theatre Drive, which will connect 12th Street and Marian Road, soon will be established and utilities will be installed.

Huston said grading will take four to six weeks.

“We hope to have vertical construction on the balance of the phase 1 project commencing in October,” he said. “That’s our plan right now.”

The multi-family residential building will be 78 units, instead of 75 as previously planned.

Design of the multi-family building is expected to be complete by Sept. 1.

Huston said there is a contract in place for construction of the 9,000-square-foot flex building.

The apartment building will be a $10 million investment. The flex building will be an investment of $1.5 million to $1.7 million.

The first phase will include the façade restoration of the former Sun-Mart building and parking lot for $1.3 million, as well as façade restoration and renovation of the former K-Mart building for $1.7 million.

There is an update to the tax-increment financing numbers, which now include $1.6 million for the multi-family building, $400,000 for the flex building, $400,000 for Sun-Mart and $500,000 for K-Mart.

The project ran into issues earlier this year when a contractor hired to remove debris from the razed mall building failed to complete that work.

That issue soon was resolved.

“We’re pleased with where we are,” Huston said. “We’re happy to move forward. It has been a long process, but we got the final plan development permit approved about six weeks ago. We gave the architects the green light to proceed with everything at that point. That design process is concluding, and we’re ready to move forward and hopefully see a lot of activity this fall.”

There are eight more lots on the Theatre District property to be developed in future phases.

“We have a lot of interest in the eight additional lots, but we’re moving forward with these four lots to begin with and I hope to be back in front of you maybe this winter, next spring with additional development as part of the Theatre District,” he said.

Commission members lauded Huston as well as the project.

“It’s exciting to hear the energy coming out of your voice that we’re moving forward,” Chairman Marshall Gaines said. “A lot of people I’ve been with have sat around grumbling. Just wait, there is a plan there.”

Commissioner Willis Hunt thanked Huston.

“It’s probably as thorough of a project as I’ve ever been involved in,” Hunt said. “I really appreciate all the information you bring. You’re very forward with everything we’ve seen. I know it hasn’t gone as well as you’d wish, but nothing in construction or life goes that way.”

Also during the meeting, commission members unanimously recommended approving a conditional use permit for the Hastings Tribune for the assembly/neighborhood use of Seaton Hall, a meeting area for events inside the Tribune Building at 908 W. Second St.

Seaton Hall is a 2,400-square-foot space that was formerly occupied by the Tribune business offices and the newspaper’s advertising sales and design teams. It’s located on the west side of the building, just off the alley between Burlington and Lexington avenues.

Most Tribune offices have moved to the east side of the Tribune building adjacent to Burlington Avenue.

“There used to be a lot of desks there and chairs and filing cabinets,” Tribune Publisher Darran Fowler said of the space on the west side of the first floor. “Once you remove all those things out of that space it’s a pretty wide open space.”

The Tribune also has existing office spaces off Seaton Hall available for lease.

“That was our original intent, but the pandemic came along and we decided to pursue this opportunity to host events,” Fowler said. “We sensed and heard there was a need for such things. We know the demand when it comes time for graduation receptions, small gatherings. That’s basically what it is. It’s a space for small gatherings.”

There are four conditions for the conditional use permit:

  • Compliance with all city, county state or federal regulations.
  • The resolution authorizing the conditional use permit must be filed with the Adams County Register of Deeds.
  • The applicant agrees to enforce a reduced maximum occupancy of no more than 134 persons at one time.
  • The new use will require a change in occupancy permit and inspection.

In other business, the commission members:

  • Unanimously recommended approval for an ordinance and amendment to the Official Zoning District Map to rezone a portion of unplatted property generally located east of Lakepark Lane and north of 38th Street from “CP-3, Commercial Business Planned” to “R-1, Urban Single Family Residential.”
  • Unanimously recommended approval for an ordinance and the amendment to the Official Zoning District Map to rezone Lots 14, 15, and 16, Block 15 of Veith’s Park Addition on the east side of Lexington Avenue, just north of M Street, from “R-1, Urban Single Family Residential” to “I-2, Heavy Industrial.”
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