Jeweler revives shopping center plan on Jefferson | Local

Andrew M. Santos

A controversial proposal for a three-building shopping center advanced by Peter Franklin Jewelers has been resurrected, according to documents filed with the Department of Planning Services.

First proposed in 2017, the project required rezoning 6.5 acres in the 4900 to 5000 blocks ofWest Jefferson, just south of Rekeweg Road, from single-family residential to limited commercial. Residents vigorously opposed the rezoning.

The residents said the development on the south side of West Jefferson Boulevard impeded upon their neighborhood and was an insufficient buffer for the highly traveled and heavily commercial areas on the boulevard’s north side, including Jefferson Pointe and Apple Glen. 

Nonetheless, the rezoning and primary development plan were approved.

But no development materialized in the two years required by the development plan. In May 2019, the applicant won a one-year extension, but that expired in 2020.

The developer now has come back with a substantially similar plan, according to a planning staff report.

The rezoning remains in place, and the developer told planners there are no plans to amend an approved written commitment, which included promises about building aesthetics and materials.

The submitted plan will create about 38,000 square feet of floor space.

Peter Franklin representative Joshua C. Neal, an attorney with Barrett McNagny, Fort Wayne, said unresolved technical issues, not financial ones, led to the delays in starting the project.

He said the first building will be occupied by Peter Franklin. Additional buildings may be rented or owner-occupied, he said. He could not immediately provide the cost of the project.

The buildings will contain about 10,000, 12,000 and 13,000 square feet, all of which are smaller than the 22,000 square feet allowed in limited commercial zoning. The buildings will be accessed from West Jefferson and a right turn-only exit is also proposed.

The developer is not seeking any waivers of development standards and points out the buffer to the neighborhood exceeds ordinance standards.

The Allen County Highway Department has noted the new plan does not meet standards and won’t be approved until “comments are received and issues will be worked on.” 

The property had been occupied by a single-family residence since 1960. 

A public hearing on the plan will take place at 5:30 p.m. Monday in Room 35 of Citizens Square.

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