Hamilton considers rezoning streets to allow for parking lot

After buying dozens of properties on North Second and North Third streets, Hamilton wants to rezone the area to pave the way for a possible new parking lot.

The proposal is to rezone the 800 and 900 blocks of the two residential streets in the North End, just east of Spooky Nook at Champion Mill and across from the city’s power plant.

“We are proposing to rezone it to entertainment mixed-use planned development, which is what you see is the zoning around it,” said Liz Hayden, Hamilton’s planning director.

“Our understanding is that it may have a future use that would be a parking lot or some other use that would be not residential. So, therefore, we are proposing to rezone it to something that would allow for a parking lot or other proposed use for this area. Residential is still permitted, there are still houses there that are being occupied, but it allows a greater flexibility.”

A parking lot would support the anticipated large crowds at the Spooky Nook complex, a 1.2 million-square-foot redevelopment of the former Champion Mill into a multi-use megacomplex featuring a convention center, 233-room hotel, and a sports and events facility.

There are 87 properties included in the rezoning proposal, and the city of Hamilton is the property owner of record for 79 of the affected properties. Of those city-owned properties, they are either vacant or the structure was demolished. There are seven properties not city-owned, six of which are residential structures. The city staff proposal includes a clause that will allow any existing occupied residential use to continue.

If the rezoning and preliminary planned development plan are approved ― a public hearing and first reading are scheduled for Sept. 28, and a vote could happen as early as Oct. 12 ― a final planned development would be required.

It’s anticipated that once a parking lot is in place, it would be transferred to the Hamilton Community Authority, an economic development tool for the city. The plan is that parking revenues generated by the parking lot will go to retire the debt issued for the Spooky Nook parking improvements

Spooky Nook officials said that based on crowds at the original Pennsylvania location, Hamilton could attract more than 1 million visitors a year in its first year.

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