Buncher Co. won final approval of special zoning legislation for its Strip District project Monday despite one council member's description of the decision as a "big mistake."
Council voted 5-4 for creation of a special zoning district for Riverfront Landing, a development proposed for 55 acres from the Veterans Bridge to 21st Street between Smallman Street and the Allegheny River.
The zoning district is just one step in the process to begin the project, which still has several hurdles to clear before construction could begin.
Councilman Patrick Dowd has raised numerous concerns about the project, including the possibility of gated streets in a residential part of the development and what he described as an inadequate buffer between proposed buildings and the riverfront.
He has also raised concerns about Buncher's proposed purchase of the historic produce terminal, now owned by the city's Urban Redevelopment Authority. Buncher wants to demolish one-third of the building to extend 17th Street to the river, and Mr. Dowd said Monday that the developer would use at least part of the building as a "crappy strip mall."
Mr. Dowd made an impassioned argument against the zoning legislation last week, but his colleagues gave preliminary approval to the legislation. Despite Mr. Dowd's repeated objections, council approved the bill Monday in a 5-4 vote.
Voting for the zoning district were council President Darlene Harris and council members Ricky Burgess, Theresa Kail-Smith, R. Daniel Lavelle and Corey O'Connor. Voting no were Mr. Dowd, Bruce Kraus, Bill Peduto and Natalia Rudiak.
The legislation calls for buffers of 70 or 75 feet between the riverfront and Buncher buildings, while Mr. Dowd and the nonprofit group Riverlife had demanded 95 feet.
Riverlife said the extra footage was needed to widen a riverfront trail and create other public amenities.
In addition, Mr. Dowd said gated communities fly in the face of the city's Allegheny Riverfront Vision Plan and the Allegheny Riverfront Green Boulevard Plan, which stress the importance of public access to the water.