Several procedural changes and a demolition approval that would pave the way for an art museum in the Pier Village on St. Simons Island will go before the Glynn County Islands Planning Commission this week.
Sandy Vacation LLC, owned by billionaire and Sea Island Co. owner Philip Anschutz, proposes to construct a two-story, 20,000 square foot building in Greek Revival style on a lot bounded by Mallery Street, Beachview Drive, 15th Street and Oglethorpe Avenue. The property does not include the building housing Simons Gallery, Gifts and Antiques at the corner of Oglethorpe and Mallery.
Conceptual plans include two floors of gallery space with a lecture hall, gift shop, library and small artist studio.
While the current zoning allows for an art gallery, the developer is requesting the county to rezone the property from village mixed-use to planned development to relax buffer and parking restrictions, among other things.
Surrounding commercial spaces have no dedicated parking, according to a Glynn County planning and zoning report. All parking is provided via on-street spaces.
Under the proposed rezoning, the project would get by on 10 off-street parking spaces for museum staff and the parking already available. According to the report, the parking spaces that would be required for the existing structures — which were never built — exceed what is required of the museum.
Public right-of-way setbacks would also be reduced from 10 feet to three feet.
“The reduced parking and reduced setbacks proposed by the (planned development) text will allow the building to be developed similar to surrounding buildings,” according to the report.
Some green space consisting of a lawn and masonry terrace would be set aside around the backside of the building “consistent with other museum settings,” according to the original application, along with a planting buffer on Mallery Street.
According to county planning staff, the changes requested in the zoning are consistent with the character of the village area.
Sea Island attorney James A. Bishop, who is representing Sandy Vacation, told The News in March the gallery will be largely filled with Anschutz’s own art collection.
Bishop said the gallery will be a “positive gift” to the Golden Isles.
To make it happen several establishments had to be displaced, including over a dozen businesses in the Pier Village Market and Dutchmans Casual Living Store. Both the collection of kiosks and Dutchmans will be demolished to make way for the structure. The IPC will also consider ruling on the demolition plan.
Anschutz, 80, a Colorado native, owns a collection of art depicting the American West currently housed in the American Museum of Western Art in Denver, Colo.,
The meeting is scheduled for 6 p.m. Tuesday in Strickland Auditorium at Epworth by the Sea on St. Simons Island.
Also on the IPC’s agenda is a rezoning request and accompanying site plan for a self-storage facility on Hamilton Road just off Sea Island Road.
The proposed three-story building would be located at the southwest corner of Hamilton Drive and Wellness Way, next to the Wellness Way Medical Office Complex.
The rezoning application, filed by Kirk Watson with Victory Storage Company, states the “Lot is currently vacant and would provide a much-needed service for the surrounding subdivisions.”
“From our other operations here, we know there is a need for more storage space on the island, especially when you consider all of the townhomes and higher density residential that have been built over the last few years in this area,” said Watson.
Only interior, climate-controlled units accessed via keypad will be available. The business “will not have any drive-up units that folks typically associate with self-storage facilities,” according to the applicant.
The property’s zoning doesn’t allow for storage rentals at present, hence the rezoning application.
The 1.41-acre pair of parcels is part of the 2.3-acre Island Health Medical Park II planned development, or PD, district, which was created in October 2011. Currently, the two parcels are vacant and wooded.
The PD text, a document detailing the requirements and restrictions on development in the district, states the district was “conceived as a planned composition of medical-related uses and limited residential units in association with an approved office.”
While the tract is “entirely uplands with some wooded area composed of mixed hardwoods and pines,” it notes the nearby marshes, wetlands and residential complexes.
It also lists the current possible uses of the property.
The text allows for health facilities, clinics, medical labs, medical professional offices, pharmacies, restaurants and “snack bars” serving nearby offices, flower and gift shops and some uses related to the ones named individually.
If the rezoning is approved, it would add rental storage facilities to the list.
According to a traffic report, storage facilities typically generate little traffic and less than the nearby medical facility currently does. In fact, Watson said the facility represents a downgrade in traffic density considering what could be built on the parcel.
Watson said Victory storage is a local company doing business on St. Simons Island since 1983. It operated two other storage facilities on the island and in other markets in Georgia.
Having grown up on St. Simons and conducted business in the area for as long as he has, Watson said the company values the character of the island.
“It’s imperative that what’s built here fits in nicely with its surroundings and blends in with the neighborhood,” Watson said. “Although the property is currently zoned for commercial PD uses, it’s adjacent to residential property, so we’re going to make sure it’s well buffered and blends in aesthetically with other buildings in the area.”
In other business, the IPC will consider a conditional use permit for landscaping, retaining walls, steps and an underground stormwater storage system over the beach and dune development setback line at a house on 18th Street on Sea Island.