Thursday May 25, 2017
The vacant Kmart Plaza has been a sea of asphalt and an eyesore for the city for over a year, but that’s all about to change.
Hannaford Supermarket, located on Hannaford Drive, is officially looking to relocate to the 935 Shelburne Rd. property, which is under Hannaford Brothers Company ownership.
Why the move for such a short distance?
“We are looking at the new space because it is both larger and more visible,” explained Eric Blom, Hannaford’s communication manager, in an email correspondence to The Other Paper.
The proposed Hannaford grocery and pharmacy will take up over 67,000 sq. ft., which is larger than the existing 40,000 sq. ft.currently being used. There will also be about 40,000 sq. ft. of adjacent tenant space.
Hannaford Brothers Company, based out of Scarborough, ME, currently operates 17 stores in Vermont, two of which are in South Burlington. Hannaford opened the existing Hannaford Drive store in 1996. Long term residents may also remember the former Kmart building occupying a MARTIN’s Food store.
Two representatives from Hannaford Supermarket came before the Development Review Board on Tuesday, May 16 for site plan (#SP-17-22) and conditional use (#CU-17-05) review. The plan is to revamp the area by renovating the existing building, replacing the façade and making site improvements related to stormwater, circulation, and lighting.
Since the project is an adaptive reuse of the existing building and parking lot, Hannaford was able to bypass the need for a new Act 250 land use permit.
One of the biggest changes is the approach to create a more bike/pedestrian-friendly experience.
“We’re adding a significant amount of curbed islands to the parking lot and providing better definition along the perimeter drive,” explained Bill McKenney, senior site engineer project manager for Hannaford Supermarkets.
This includes new sidewalks from Queen City Park Road (from Shelburne Road, along the south and north sides of the property), a new driveway in front of the building with a variety of textures, and new bike lanes along the perimeter drive from Queen City Park Road to the Community Bank’s lot.
“This will make for a safer environment for people passing through the site,” he added.
Along the store front, the sidewalk will be widened from 18 feet to 24 feet to add more trees and more benches for seating. Cyclists will have access to 22 spaces for bike racks with an inverted-U design.
Efficient LED lighting throughout the parking lot will set the scene, and 14 ft. high ornamental light fixtures will be spaced across the storefront. The perimeter drive will be separately circuited, allowing the business to turn off parking lot lights but still provide illumination for the public passing through the area after hours.
To bring vitality and life into the presently barren site, Hannaford is proposing over 100 new trees throughout the parking lot and lining the perimeter drive.
Furthermore, Hannaford is offering to provide a new stormwater control and treatment system that will reduce rain runoff and potential for downstream erosion by 70 percent. This should reduce grit, silt, and sentiment by 65 percent, and it should reduce pollutants, particularly phosphorous, by 25 percent, McKenney said.
To further aid with stormwater, Hannaford has requested a 10.5 percent parking waiver to reduce the number of parking spaces--bringing it down to 487 spaces. Staff approved of this waiver and recommended the board approve up to 40 parking spaces (8.2 percent of the total) to be allowed to be designated at any time as park-and-ride spaces by the applicant subject only to a zoning permit.
From an architectural standpoint, the building will receive a new façade and will have warm, earth-toned colors and quality materials such as stone veneer and traditional lap siding, along with pitched roof architectural features and standing seam metal roof canopies, according to a memo from White and Burke Real Estate Investment Advisors.
To level out the dip in the parking lot, Hannaford will raise the grade throughout.
Moreover, there will be a new amenity available to shoppers: Hannaford To Go. This service allows shoppers to order groceries online, select an hour for pick-up, and then park at one of the designated parking spots for expedited service.
Room for Improvement
“This property is a key connection from Queen City Park all the way up to Fayette Drive,” said Kathy Frank, a resident and member of the Bike/Pedestrian Committee. She noted that the bike lane disappears as the cyclist continues south past the bank, around the curb, and toward Hannaford Drive.
“The problem with that disappearing lane that comes south is that the drivers don’t necessarily know the bike lane disappears. It’s because it turns to two lanes: one to turn left, one to turn right. Those are always tricky because then the cyclist doesn’t have a lane anymore.”
She suggested a dedicated lane down toward Hannaford Drive, but residents Lou Breese and Tim Barritt, a city councilor, said that the street is too narrow for the request.
“Would it be advantageous to discuss getting rid of one strip of parking and shifting everything over so that you can get dedicated bike lanes going north and south?” Board member Mark Behr asked. He referenced staff’s comments in support of an even higher parking waiver reduction of 15 or 20 percent (430-455 total spaces) since it is close to public transit, housing, and expected shared parking with future adjacent tenants to the building.
McKenney responded that it would be difficult to cut more parking since there could be more demand with future tenants.
“I urge you to listen to what staff thinks you might need because if you only end up occupying 30-40 percent of this parking lot 80 percent of the time, then you’ve sacrificed all this other area that you could have used for something like green space or bike lanes,” Barritt said.
Roy Neuer, another Bike/Pedestrian Committee member, recommended adding a bike lane coming from Queen City Park Road directly to the storefront.
“This is a dangerous intersection, and as an experienced cyclist, I’m very wary of coming in here and making a turn,” resident Donna Leban cautioned. She, too, is on the Bike/Pedestrian Committee. She suggested perhaps shifting the bike lanes along the store front. However, some residents and board members countered that it wouldn’t be as efficient for cyclists using the lanes as a thoroughfare.
Needless to say, the bike/pedestrian safety issues are a conundrum that the applicant will assess before it returns to the board.
“I’m really glad Hannaford has chosen to redevelop this property, but I’m a little disappointed because I haven’t seen anything innovative here tonight,” Barritt said. He suggested creative stormwater treatment options and solar opportunities given the property’s southern orientation.
“It’s going to be nice, but I don’t think it does the best that you can do,” he concluded.
“Really make this a commitment to be a part of the city that actually shines.”
“This is a great improvement on what’s currently there. This is an important throughfare from Burlington to point South. I think it could use as much innovation as possible right now,” board member David Parsons echoed.
“I think this is an admirable redevelopment of the site. I think you’re solving a lot of the problems the current site has,” Board member Mark Behr said. “Right now it’s not a jewel in the city, it’s an eyesore, but you do have an opportunity [to be innovative].”
The board moved to continue both conditional use and site plan applications to June 6 to give the Hannaford team a chance to digest the evening’s comments and return to the drawing board.
As for the desired timeline and what’s to become of the Hannaford location next to Lowe’s, those answers are still to-be-determined.
“There is no timeline,” Blom wrote. “We have not identified plans for our existing space, should the relocation occur and would evaluate that.”
SOURCE: Miranda Jonswold, Correspondent