AUSTIN EDITION -- Planning Commission reviews petition

Appeal is about off-street parking requirements

By Roxana Orellana

The Austin Planning Commission is reviewing a petition to appeal off-street parking requirements for a new retail operation.

A city ordinance requires a minimum of one off-street parking stall per 175 square feet for retail buildings.


Petitioner Tom Sherman, owner of USEM Inc., is asking to be allowed one off-street parking stall per approximately 242 square feet at 1314 Oakland Ave. W. The commission heard the request at its Thursday meeting.

The off-street stalls will be part of a 14,500 square foot retail store construction, according to Director of Community Development Craig Hoium

A drive-up pharmacy will be part of the construction on the 1.35 acre site, according to the proposed plan.

"It's my understanding that in order for a transaction to happen, the parking has to be resolved," Hoium said. He declined to comment on the name of the retail store.

The store could be a Walgreen's -- it matches a couple of criteria the national chain is using. It's newest marketing strategy involves locating outside of strip malls on busy intersections, such as the site across from Sterling Mall, according to an online business journal.

If it is a Walgreen's, the process is too early for the company's media relations to have any information, according to Carol Hively of Walgreen's.

After checking a list of upcoming developments this morning, Hively said, "We show nothing at all right now so I guess if we're looking or interested, it'd be too soon to say right now. We don't even show that it's approved right now."

Hively said a developer could be seeking all the needed city approval before getting approval from Walgreen's.


Asked if Walgreens is eyeing southern Minnesota for new stores, Hively said, "We're growing pretty quickly chainwide."

Sherman is also the owner of USEM Chevrolet at 219 Second Ave. N.E. and an auto body repair shop at 200 Second St. N.E.

At a Housing and Redevelopment Authority meeting, Sherman said he is interested in relocating all his businesses under one roof, but he must sell his current property first.

Staff writer Nikki Merfeld contributed to this report.

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