Two more C-5P businesses on avenue

       Lari Trogani can continue running a teahouse in front and a law office in back at 1824 W. Colorado Ave. And, at 1810/1812 W. Colorado, Gaylon Wampler is OK having a tenant with a clothing store and residence in the main house and himself running his photography business in the rear cottage.
       They are the latest in a line of property/business owners over the past 25 years to take advantage of the C-5P zone (“P” standing for “Planned Provisional Overlay”) available on the avenue between 7th and 23rd streets. The zone, approved by a City Council resolution in 1983, roughly halves the off-street parking requirements for small businesses along that stretch of road.
       At its April 10 meeting, City Planning Commission approved Trogani's and Wampler's applications, both of which included C-5P requests.
       Long-time Westside leader Dave Hughes said the C-5P idea originally developed as a way to help smaller businesses that were starting to appear in the avenue's older houses.
       The concept is that although such house-based businesses are technically as commercial as their counterparts at a shopping center, they actually attract far fewer customers. “I have a couple of people every few hours,” Wampler said, when asked about his business last January. Explaining his parking situation to Planning Commission members, he said he tells customers to park in back (off the alley, where his parking is), but they still park on the street, where there are usually plenty of spaces.
       Trogani described a similar situation in an interview, saying her customers prefer on-street parking even though she has suggested they “pull in the driveway” (it's set up as a one-way from the avenue to the alley). Currently, the way she works it, her employees park in her three driveway spaces, she said.
       Wampler and Trogani don't believe the C-5P zone hurts the neighborhoods behind them and, definitely in their situations - owning houses built in 1893 and 1888, respectively - can help out because they have upgraded them.
       “When we moved in, we found tons of drug-dealing paraphernalia in the house,” Wampler told the Planning Commission. “I'd like to think we've done our part to help the neighborhood.”
       “The building fits perfectly with the surrounding area, and in fact has added charm and beauty to the neighborhood,” Trogani writes in her concept statement to City Planning.
       According to city research, Trogani and Wampler are the 20th and 21st applicants to successfully request a C-5P zone over the years. None has ever been denied, even when, as in Trogani's application (3 spaces available where 20 were required), their off-street parking capacity was noticeably less than required, even with C- 5P.
       What the Planning Commission did for Trogani was to grant her a non-use variance that could be revoked if her Bona Dea teahouse ever evolved into a full-fledged restaurant. But this is not going to happen, Trogani said in a recent interview. “We don't do any cooking at all,” she said, noting that a typical repast consists of tea and scones.
       “The non-use variance requested seemed to be excessive at first,” Rachel Teixeira of City Planning writes in her recommendation to Planning Commission regarding Trogani. “However, staff re-examined the request and researched the neighborhood. The neighborhood has been changing in character from primarily residential to a variety of land use types. These businesses are low impact and do not result in high traffic and congestion in comparison to the Old Colorado City neighborhood.”
       The idea of putting C-5P on the entire 7th-to-23rd-Street segment has been considered, Teixeira said in a follow-up interview, but no proposal in that regard is in the works at this time.
       Both Trogani and Wampler had bought their properties and started doing business on them in the last three or four years, not realizing that they did not have adequate parking under the avenue's “default” C-5 zone. When this fact eventually percolated up to City Planning, the C-5P possibility was presented. The two entrepreneurs joined forces in their applications to City Planning, but the eventual review process considered each separately.
       Trogani initially had three businesses on her 7,500-square-foot property. One of them (a massage service) has since relocated.
       Her approval from Planning Commission included a stipulation that she identify a fourth off-street parking space. She said there is a space inside the garage (part of which was remodeled for the law office).
       Final approval on both applications is still required from City Council, and this is scheduled for readings at the May 13 and 27 meetings, Teixeira said. No opposition is expected. There had been a few citizen inquiries about the C-5P proposals, and one person offered criticisms at Planning Commission of potential impacts if the Trogani teahouse grew, but no one appealed either of the Planning Commission approvals.

Westside Pioneer article