City gives preliminary approval to shopkeeper extension
A new kind of upscale living arrangement will likely be coming to downtown Yuma soon - one that city officials are hoping will attract other downtown development and breathe additional year-round life into the downtown scene.
The Yuma City Council on Wednesday gave a first reading - which is basically preliminary approval - to a request by California developer Craig W. Clark for a time extension on building five shopkeeper units on Madison Street in downtown Yuma.
Clark has been trying to get the shopkeepers built since 2001. Shopkeepers combine working and living spaces in one unit.
The council could give its final approval to Clark's request in two weeks at their March 17 meeting, city officials said.
If approved, Clark's shopkeepers will also have two-car garages on the lower levels so the owners won't have to park on the street.
The new development agreement with Clark will require the first shopkeeper unit to be finished by August or the site will revert to the city. Two additional units must be completed by November and all five must be done by March 2005, or the property will revert to the city.
Once a shopkeeper is built, however, it will no longer fall under the reversion agreement with the city, according to the terms of the time extension.
Clark told the council during its Tuesday work session that he is so "bullish" on Yuma that an hour before that meeting, he signed a construction contract with a local firm to build the first shopkeeper, even before knowing whether the council would approve the extension.
Charles Flynn, the city's riverfront development manager and the man who has shepherded the project through its various configurations, has assured the council that this will be the last significant time extension Clark gets.
"The intent of the development agreement was to foster development and see things built," Flynn said Tuesday.
Flynn said he was partly to blame for some of the project's delays.
When Clark asked for his first time extension, Flynn suggested that in exchange, Clark be required to build five units instead of the original three. Flynn said he didn't realize at the time that that would trigger the city's lengthy subdivision process, which Clark has now completed.
This time, in exchange for the second time extension, Clark has agreed to sink $1 million of his own money into the project instead of the $500,000 he originally agreed to. He must also meet the "aggressive" construction schedule, Flynn said.