Tallmadge P&Z Commission on board with second phase of city center complex on North Avenue

by Holly Schoenstein | reporter Published:

Tallmadge -- A real estate development company garnered a thumbs up from the city's Planning and Zoning Commission March 6 after it recommended City Council approve a request for a conditional zoning certificate for the second phase of a major development project.

Mota Design Group, a company affiliated with Cuyahoga Falls-based Testa Companies, plans to build the mixed-use development it calls "The Village at Town Center" at 76 North Ave., to the north of City Hall near the Circle.

Last year, Council approved specific plans for the first phase of the development, a four-story building with retail on the first floor, rental apartments for seniors on the second and third floors, and condominiums on the fourth floor. It also approved the general concept for the second and third phases -- a town center that would incorporate the former Tallmadge Middle School, City Hall, police department and banks near the Circle -- with the condition that the developer would have to come before the Commission again with specific proposals for how the property would be developed.

With Council's approval, urgent care centers and doctors' offices are permitted uses on the property. The company came before the Commission with a conditional zoning request so that emergency care facilities and child or adult day cares would be added to the list of permitted uses.

Joel Testa, chief operating officer of Testa Companies, couldn't be reached for comment by deadline.

He told the Commission his company is marketing the development to two healthcare organizations that operate emergency rooms and urgent care centers, and the developer has secured a Letter of Intent from one of them to operate some kind of medical facility in the development. Whether it would be a freestanding, 24-hour emergency room or urgent care has yet to be decided, but the market favors an urgent care, he said.

In a previous interview with the Tallmadge Express, Testa declined to identify the name of the healthcare organization.

He said the proposed medical building would be two stories, and Code Enforcement Official for the city, Roger Lyons, said the remaining exterior details, including the roof, would be up to the Heritage Commission.

Among the concerns of residents who addressed the Commission were whether an emergency or urgent care facility is necessary and the potential traffic congestion it might cause in an already busy area of the city.

Russ Hobson, of East Overdale Drive, said Akron General Medical Center already has an urgent care across the street from the development site.

"It just seems like a duplication of services we don't need," he said.

Kathy Pfenninger, of Spring Grove Drive, liked the idea of the proposed complex.

"I think the complex is going to be great ... I love Tallmadge because it's a beautiful community, and I think it needs to develop," she said.

According to city officials, a traffic study was completed for the first phase of the development, and another for the second phase would need to be done as well.

The conditional zoning certificate request will come before Council for approval during its next meeting, which is scheduled for 7 p.m., March 10 at City Hall.

Contact this reporter at 330-541-9428 or hschoenstein@recordpub.com

Facebook: Holly Schoenstein, Record Publishing Co.

Twitter: @SchoensteinH

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