Developers make moves on "Y," shops look to relocate

A California-based development company is making progress with its plans to transform the Soldotna “Y” with new buildings to house a Walgreens as well as other businesses yet to be determined.

The Soldotna Planning and Zoning Commission on Feb. 5 approved to replat two parcels at the “Y” into five as requested by Aventine Development Corporation.

John Czarnezki, Soldotna city planner, said two of the parcels will be used for Walgreens and its parking lot. The remaining will be for other retail development.

“Hopefully we’ll find a couple other businesses that will help improve the local economy … and keep jobs in the city or hopefully even create some new jobs,” he said.

Czarnezki said the current buildings at the “Y” will be leveled, and knows the businesses have been actively looking to relocate.

Tammy Davis, owner of Chez Moi Boutique, is preparing to move to the Shops Around the Corner building, the former Pour House, at the intersection of the Sterling Highway and Kobuk Street. Orange Poppy, a home décor store, and Northern Roots, a hair salon, will join Davis in the building.

“I’m excited,” Davis said about moving down the highway. “I think it’s a new opportunity. I’d been open a little over six and a half years now and I had kind of been looking for a new spot. “

Davis said she hopes to be open by April first in the new location.

Unlike Chez Moi, some other businesses at the “Y” have yet to firm up relocation plans. Peggy Mullen, owner of River City Books, said the business owners haven’t received notice that the sale of the property has been finalized, but they assume it will be and are looking for a new space.

Sierra Conner, who opened Siren Salon in December at the “Y,” said she really likes that location and if the sale is finalized, she would like to be able to find a new space within Soldotna.

“Hopefully all of those businesses can find a new home in a place that they like and that they can do well in,” Czarnezki said. “And hopefully the new development coming in will also do well at that location.”

Current owners of the property, Mullen Homestead, could not confirm when the sale would be finalized.

Now that Soldonta’s commission has approved the plat, Czarnezki said its recommendation goes before the Kenai Peninsula Borough Plat Committee on Feb. 24.

If the platting committee determines any changes must be made, the development designer must make those changes and resubmit the design to the borough for final plat.

On Feb. 26, the Soldotna City Council will consider the platting committee’s recommendation.

Czarnezki said Aventine will have to, essentially, widen the right-of-way to meet Department of Transportation standards.

“So there’s a few steps yet to go, but they’re getting closer,” Czarnezki said.

Soldotna’s commission will also review a site plan, a layout design for the buildings, parking and landscaping, when the developer submits it. When the commission OKs the plan, Aventine will be awarded a zoning permit.

As is the corporation’s policy to not comment on projects in the works, CEO Chad Hagle would not say on how many or what other business could be moving into the space once it is constructed.

However, he did say the corporation has been working with the city for about two and half years in the background and while he would have liked to begin construction last season, development is a long-term process.

Kaylee Osowski can be reached at kaylee.osowski@peninsulaclarion.com.

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