SOMERTON IN MIDST OF DOWNTOWN EVOLUTION
SOMERTON IS GOING through an evolution of culture and land development changes. Its richness in history is there to explore and to celebrate. Surrounded by prime agriculture land, downtown Somerton is an ideal area for expansion, planning inward instead of absorbing agriculture land from its surroundings. Many locals miss some of the activities that occurred along Main Street, right at the heart of downtown Somerton. Others who have lived in Somerton for over 40 years recall activities on
Main Street. Through policy and plan implementation such as the Somerton Redevelopment Plan and the Main Street Redesign Project, the City has welcomed new businesses along Main Street. More are under design. A smart city growth policy is a focus for the next few years. Older existing neighborhoods and the Main Street Corridor are ideal areas for infill development.
The Entertainment District, a part of the City’s recent City Council-approved “Infill Incentive Overlay District,” allows City staff to offer incentives for new or existing businesses and to encourage mixed use developments along the Main Street Corridor. As an introduction, below are some parts of the guidelines that relate to the “Entertainment District.”
Creating an Entertainment District
Recent proposals and physical development indicate that downtown Somerton is ready to make the shift from a service-based corridor to an entertainment destination. This plan will target the creation of an entertainment district to serve as the anchor and focal point of downtown Somerton.
Aesthetic Quality Consistency
Some projects gracefully enhance the surrounding area, others are aesthetically incompatible with their neighborhood and can negatively compromise the existing patterns. Using the design guidelines of the 2013 Plan, this plan will orchestrate the creation of a sensible aesthetic pattern for new development and redevelopment in the downtown area. The plan offers examples of architecture designs and wall signage ideas that would complement the historic theme as reflected in Somerton’s history. Although with simple details, façade improvements that add special lighting, projected sign styles, colored building canopies, and sidewalk landscaping, meet the intent of this plan as a pedestrian environment along Main Street.
Although with simple details, facade improvements that add special lighting, projected sign styles, colored building canopies, and sidewalk landscaping, meet the intent of this plan as a pedestrian environment along Main Street.
Allowing MixedUse and Mixing Uses
Mixed Use Zoning grants tremendous opportunity to property owners and developers alike. Several Main Street properties are in fact already mixed-use commercial and residential. This plan greatly extends the benefits of mixeduse to all of downtown beyond Main Street and establishes a framework for mixing uses not previously allowed such as corner markets and cafes within residential areas. To address all opportunities identified, especially Infill Development in the urban core, this plan updates the boundaries of the Infill Incentive District, creates a new
zoning designation known as “Infill Incentive Overlay”, and creates a new Infill Incentive Package for the benefit of properties within said Infill Incentive District for the purpose of expediting the revitalization of downtown via the facilitation of Infill Development.
The Entertainment District area is bounded by Somerton Avenue to the east, Cesar Chavez Avenue to the west, Cano Street to the south, and Spring Street to the north.
Property and business owners located within the entertainment district, starting February 5, 2021, will be able to take advantage of applicable incentives to improve their building façade, for building remodels, or for mixeduse proposals. These are the incentives under the
IIOP and applicable to the Entertainment District:
Adjusted Development Standards: Adjusted development standards will allow developers to maximize the use of the lots platted under obsolete subdivision standards creating a more favorable environment for new construction without requiring variances.
Compatible Use Incentive: This incentive allows the healthy mixing of uses in the IIOP Boundary area through the rolling back of use zoning restrictions and allows certain compatible uses picked from the underlying base zoning districts on any parcel with the Infill Incentive Overlay Zoning Designation as an alternative to the traditional rezoning process.
Alley Paving Waiver: Alley access is permitted in all properties abutting a public alleyway. Alley paving requirement is entirely waived for all properties with the Infill Incentive Overlay Zoning Designation thus assisting Infill Development and eliminating a burden for the potential development and allowing more flexibility.
Water Retention Waiver: On-site stormwater retention requirements are entirely waived for most properties in the Infill Incentive Overlay Area located within the Entertainment District. Stormwater may be discharged onto the street or storm channel to flow to designated municipal retention areas.
Accessory Dwelling Incentive: The minimum lot size requirement for accessory dwelling units is significantly reduced. Accessory Dwelling Units are now permitted on any lot of at least 6000 SF within the IIOP boundaries. ADUs may be used as rental units as, if the owner of the property resides on site.
Parking Requirement Reduction: Minimum parking requirements for all properties with the Infill Incentive Overlay Zoning designation may be reduced up to 50% from the number of spots required by the Somerton Zoning Ordinance for the proposed use.
Historic Restoration Incentive: Building Permit and Plan Review Fees are reduced by 30% for projects involving the restoration/remodeling of buildings pre-dating the year 1950. Project must comply with all IIOP design and landscaping requirements.
Façade Improvement Loan: A no-interest, no-down payment short term loan of up to $10,000 is available to all properties with the Infill Incentive Overlay Designation looking to improve their building / residence facade.
Landscape Requirements Adjustment: Minimum Landscaping Requirements for all properties with the Infill Incentive Overlay Zoning Designation are significantly reduced with greater emphasis given to shade trees, street trees, and growing the city’s urban forest canopy.
Adaptive Reuse: Building Permit and Plan Review Fees are reduced by 30% for projects involving the retrofit of an existing building to establish a new use or Mixed-Use development. Project must comply with all IIOP design and landscaping requirements.
For more information about the Infill Incentive Overlay Plan and for more detail about the “Entertainment District”, please contact Hector Tapia, Economic Development Director at 928-722-7390. ✶