Plans to turn a vacant, former Coca-Cola bottling plant on North Market Street into a mixed-use development are moving forward with a tentative groundbreaking set for early summer.
The city’s Planning Commission on Tuesday approved a final site plan and a plan to protect and maintain trees on the site, which allows developers to move forward with construction.
Known as Catoctin Overlook, the slated development at 1705 N. Market St. includes construction of an 86 multifamily-unit residential building and conversion of a 9,200-square-foot portion of the existing building into a 5,200-square-foot, 150-seat restaurant and 4,000 square feet of office space.
The launch of the planned 4.85-acre development has been a long time coming.
According to the staff report, in 2014, the Board of Aldermen approved an application to demolish the existing structures after denying a request to place a historic preservation overlay on the property.
In October 2015, the Board of Aldermen approved a request to rezone the property from neighborhood commercial to mixed use through the placement of a floating zone. Two conditions were tacked onto the approval, which included requiring the developer to construct the rails to trails path section parallel to the eastern property line and retain the exterior facade of the main building adjacent to North Market Street.
The current proposal is for developers to retain the 9,200-square-foot portion of the total 12,400-square-foot main building and demolish a free-standing, 13,447-square-foot warehouse behind the main building. The majority of another attached warehouse is also set for demolition to allow for vehicles to pass through the property to the rear.
The three commissioners who attended Tuesday’s Planning Commission meeting — Chairwoman Barbara Nicklas, Commissioner and Alderwoman Kelly Russell, and Alternate Commissioner Alan Imhoff — voted unanimously to approve the plans.
The vote came after minimal discussion with Chris Smariga, the principal of civil engineering firm Harris, Smariga & Associates, who served as the applicant requesting the approvals.
One member of the public, city resident Trish Cunningham, also spoke against the development, citing concerns about increased traffic and density.
Imhoff said he believes the development is a positive thing for the area, and pointed out that traffic used to come and go frequently from the area when the bottling plant was in operation, and thus the potential issues are not new.
Russell said the city is growing and developments such as Catoctin Overlook are needed to accommodate that growth.
“The truth of the matter is, we are growing,” she said. “We need to accommodate the people who are coming here, spending money here.”
Smariga said he anticipates beginning construction on the project in early summer if all goes as planned.