Commission gives first approval to Butler Plaza ordinance


Published: Friday, September 20, 2013 at 2:11 p.m.
Last Modified: Friday, September 20, 2013 at 2:11 p.m.

Changes to the future redevelopment and expansion of the Butler Plaza retail district along Archer Road continue to advance through the City Commission.

The first vote Thursday evening on an ordinance to make modifications passed 5-1, with Thomas Hawkins in dissent and Randy Wells absent. The ordinance has to come back for a second vote for the approval to be final.

With the exception of Hawkins, commissioners previously had voted to support the changes in May, when they gave staff the go-ahead to draft the ordinance that came back Thursday evening.

Butler Enterprises' requested changes move a planned open-air, walkable town center from the north side of the property to near the intersection of Archer Road and Southwest 34th Street.

The approved changes also loosen requirements for the internal road system inside the development.

The allowable block size inside the development increased from an average perimeter of 1,600 feet to a maximum of 2,000 feet in most areas of the development and a cap of 3,200 feet in the northwest area where big-box stores, including a new Walmart, are planned.

That change in block size will spread out the distance between the streets inside the development. Commissioners also approved a request to allow "maneuvering lanes" to link parking areas in the development.

Those maneuvering lanes do not meet the city's legal definition of a street.

The project is divided into four "sub-areas," and the thresholds on development are now project-wide after the elimination of separate caps on the allowable square footage of development for each area.

Butler Plaza began in the mid-1970s with one shopping center on a former airstrip and has grown to about 1 million square feet of retail and restaurants.

The changes now working their way through the City Commission do not increase the overall development threshold for the future expansion.

Butler Enterprises received approval in 2012 for 2.5 million square feet of retail space, 250,000 square feet of office, 500 hotel or motel rooms and as many as 1,000 apartments or condominiums.

At a meeting in late May, Omelia Lazzari, a principal planner with the city, said Butler Enterprises could not build out everything it has approval for because there is a cap — 37,591 average trips per day — on the traffic the development can generate.

The expansion and redevelopment will more than triple the traffic generated from the current average of 12,224 trips a day.

The project will span about 267 acres along Archer Road from Southwest 34th Street to Interstate 75 and include the current Butler Plaza and the site of a former mobile home park to the north of the current Plaza.

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