- April 3, 2017
Although the owners of the Ringling Shopping Center had an October deadline to inform the city about its preferred plans for redevelopment, City Attorney Robert Fournier said last week he wouldn’t be surprised to get an update sooner than that.
That turned out to be a prescient prognostication. On Wednesday, the Doyle Family Trust alerted the city that it wants to proceed with a rezone for the Ringling Shopping Center land that would bring the property in line with downtown zoning regulations.
Owner Louis Doyle called the agreement a win-win. Last October, officials made clear a change to Downtown Neighborhood and Downtown Edge zoning classifications was the city’s first choice for the land. After eight months of review, Doyle said the property owners have reached the same conclusion.
“My thought was that we should get this process rolling, because we did our analysis and we figured out this option should be the best option for us,” Doyle said.
“We’re following what people are telling us and what the marketplace is telling us.” — Louis Doyle
A mediated settlement agreement between the city and the property owners, reached in October, included three options for the future of the land:
If the shopping center were ultimately redeveloped, it would bring an end to a protracted lawsuit following the 2013 denial of a Walmart on the property. Despite outspoken resident opposition to the Walmart plans, Doyle said community input has helped guide the decision-making process.
“We’re not tone deaf over here,” Doyle said. “We’re following what people are telling us and what the marketplace is telling us.”
Doyle said the mixed-use principles encouraged by the downtown zoning regulations were particularly well suited for the current market conditions. Still, it’s not clear what exactly will go on the shopping center property when it’s redeveloped. Doyle said the owners are looking at commercial and possibly residential uses for the land, but no long-term leaseholders are locked in.
The city has 240 days to file and adopt a comprehensive plan amendment and rezone for the property. Once that process is in motion, it should become easier to target potential tenants, Doyle said.
It’s also not clear whether the current owners will redevelop the land themselves, or if a new owner might take on the challenge of refreshing the long-dormant Ringling Shopping Center after the rezone is complete.
“We’re open to all things at this point,” Doyle said. “We’re just getting started here.”