Chelsea hears pitch for mixed-use development at Big Kaboom field

Published 11:21 am Wednesday, December 6, 2023

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By NOAH WORTHAM | Staff Writer

CHELSEA – The city of Chelsea has received a pitch for a potential mixed-use development with housing and retail that would be located where the Big Kaboom takes place at the intersection of Highway 47 and 100 Chelsea Corners Way.

Village Creek Development displayed its plans for a potential mixed-use development that would utilize two parcels during a Chelsea pre-council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 5.

The project would be located on the current green spaces behind Chelsea Corners Way and on the other side of Hwy 47 behind Winn-Dixie and Sanpeggio’s Pizza.

“What I enjoy about our business model is that we have the ability to go out and take pieces of property that don’t need to necessarily be zoned for residential or entirely for commercial and create a mixed-use environment,” said Tom Walker, president and principal of Village Creek Development. “And (to) be able to add something that creates value and something where people in the community want to live and will be excited to have (as) part of their community even if they don’t live there. That’s generally our overall vision.”

The potential development is in its early stages and representatives of Village Creek Development came before the council to inform them of their request to rezone the project from B-2 (General Business District) to PMD (Planned Mixed-use Development).

“We’re under contract with Barber Company,” Walker said. “We need to work through all of the rest of the real estate processes from construction financing, equity raise, actually going out designing and building the project. But our first step is to try to navigate through all of this with you all and what our ask is for this project is to change the zoning.”

Walker shared with the council that the project has a 30,000 square foot retail component to it.

“I think that the most critical portion of that is going to be who’s in charge of leasing and managing that real estate and what types of tenants are going to go there,” Walker said.

For retail development, Walker showcased designs for three 10,000 square foot buildings that are separated by plazas with a significant amount of green space.

“We’ve been talking to retailers in the market and have strong interest from particularly one group that has been trying to come to Chelsea for a while,” Walker said. “While I’m not really comfortable divulging who it is, I will tell you it’s somebody that I think everybody in Chelsea would get really excited about.”

A portion of the project could be potentially filled with fast and casual restaurants, service and possibly small retail.

“The idea is to create something and sort of expand upon what’s already there where folks that move into this neighborhood don’t really have to leave that much if they don’t have to,” Walker said.

The development would also feature a selection of single family housing as well as a denser version of townhouses. Walker said the goal for the single family housing is to make it “minitized” and to have pedestrian friendly sidewalks, parking and to make the area walkable.

According to Walker, every residence in the project would be for-rent.

“It would be really, really hard if not impossible to finance a For Sale project like this,” he said. “The buying power of the American consumer is as low as it’s ever been when it comes to home purchases given where interest rates are and where banks are with their ability to loan. Also, it gets to be a lot hard to lease the commercial side of it if we don’t control what happens behind them.”

After the presentation, Councilmember Christopher Grace expressed concerns over the traffic near the development at the intersection with Winn Dixie and asked the developers if they have looked into the issue and talked to the county about it.

“That’s probably one of, if not the most, complicated intersection in the whole city,” he said.

According to Walker, Village Creek Development has discussed the issue at a “high-level.”

Councilmember Casey Morris asked as to why the developers would like to do the development across Hwy 47 as opposed to utilizing the existing Chelsea Corners.

“We like the idea of it running down Hwy 47 because to us having retail at that intersection where there is such high traffic allowance,” Walker said. “It activates it, it’s bright. We’ll have a Christmas tree up, there’ll be lights everywhere. People will be outside playing with their children.”

Village Creek Development has made an application to the Chelsea Planning and Zoning Commission and a public hearing will be held for the rezoning on Thursday, Dec. 21 at 6 p.m. If the rezoning is passed then the developers hope to come before the Chelsea City Council for a public hearing in early February.