By Errol Castens/NEMS Daily Journal
OXFORD – Developer Will Ashley’s proposal for an eight-building, 75,650-square-foot development mixing commercial and residential uses received initial approval Monday by the Oxford Planning Commission.
The proposal for “Jackson Row” includes 80 condominium units totaling 225 beds, along with retail, restaurant and other commercial space, including a gym and fitness center that Ashley described as “high-end.”
City ordinance requires 222 parking spaces for such a development. A proposed two-story underground garage will give it 232 spaces, about two-thirds of which will be reserved for residents.
“Even though we do provide enough parking spaces, we want to encourage walking,” architect Michael Jones said, noting the project lies a few blocks from both the Square and the University of Mississippi campus.
Commission member Watt Bishop congratulated the developers for their underground parking and their thought of pedestrian transportation.
“All these condo developments done in the last 10 years have used the prime ground-level retail space for parking instead,” he said. “This is a major step in Oxford development to develop spaces where people can go somewhere without a car. Right now, almost everything … requires getting in a car.”
The development’s first hurdle was a special exception to allow multi-unit residential development within the General Business zoning of the Conservation Overlay District. In the immediate neighborhood on Jackson Avenue, just east of the Depot, are a convenience store, two churches, a liquor store and other businesses, along with four condominium buildings of Adelaide Place. (Three of those will be incorporated into Jackson Row, and one, which is only a shell, will be razed.)
Despite the four- and five-story designs, Ashley did not request a variance from the 38-foot height limit for the conservation overlay district because of the site’s steep slopes.
Jones said each of the buildings will have a different façade.
“The look of the architecture – we wanted it to reflect both the old and the new,” he said. “Even the new-looking buildings, though, we wanted to have classical proportions.”
City planning officials supported the special exception, saying it “does not adversely affect the public interest.”
Oxford’s land-use plan requires that no more than 60 percent of any developed property be covered with impervious material to minimize runoff. Developers have asked to delay their stormwater plan and submit it with the overall design later.
In addition to its ground-level greenspace, Jackson Row’s design proposes several innovations to deal with runoff, including two “green” roofs, one “green” wall and the collection of rainwater for irrigation. Other environment-oriented elements proposed are solar panels and ground-source heating and cooling.
Ashley said most contractors with whom he is negotiating estimate construction time at 18 to 24 months, with one estimating as just 15 months.