Proposals to revise aspects of the Downtown Plan regarding Mifflin Street and West Washington Street were at the center of a city committee meeting Wednesday evening.
The Urban Design Commission discussed concerns regarding height, utilization of potential building space and alternative layouts to the Downtown Plan.
Two potential plans outlining changes to West Mifflin Street and West Washington Avenue were presented by Principal Planner Bill Fruhling.
Fruhling and other committee members discussed potential buildings and whether to include a mix of residential and commercial space.
According to UDC Chair Dick Wagner, retail space in the potential buildings would be a necessity for residents in the area.
“If you create more densities, there will be needs for restaurants and laundromats,” Wagner said.
Fruhling said retail space would be limited in the future buildings. He said room for employment offices and residential spaces would be the primary focus in the layouts.
Wagner addressed concerns with building height limits and said there were procedures in place to exceed them, but he did not elaborate further.
Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, said he supports the concepts the Downtown Plan staff has recommended, which includes new construction, conservation and preservation.
He added he will focus on wider options for student housing within the Downtown Plan’s layouts.
“Students prefer a range of housing options, be it prices, number of bedrooms or types of housing,” Verveer said. “One of my big concerns is that we preserve the widest possible options for student housing. Some [developers] have proposed the Mifflin neighborhood be bulldozed in favor of high-rise student apartments, and I do not agree with that vision.”
The Downtown Plan is scheduled to be approved by several more committees before it reaches the City Council for a final vote, according to Verveer. A total of 14 committees are considering or have considered aspects of the Downtown Plan.
Some have finalized their work, Verveer said, but many are still in the middle of the process.
Verveer estimated the plan will reach City Council for a final vote in mid-April.
“There might be a light at the end of the tunnel, but not a very bright light,” Verveer said.