A new Honda dealership along John Rice Blvd. in the city’s central business area, inched closer to reality at a planning commission meeting Wednesday. But a major hurdle looms before the project can move ahead.

The commissioners approved the initial designs for the dealership, but the applicant’s choice for positioning the main building puts the project in violation of the city’s zoning ordinance. The variance would be from a requirement in the Gateway Design Overlay District that there must be 10 feet between the building and the parking lots, if a lot is 1.5 acres or greater. 

As the applicant, the Umansky Automotive Group of Memphis, will need to change his design or seek a variance, the commissioners tossed that matter to the board of zoning appeals. They did not take a stand for or against a variance request.

In other business, the commissioners:

  • Approved final designs plans for one new bank and initial plans for a second bank, both to be built along Medical Center Parkway.
  • Cleared the final designs for an assisted living and memory center, also in the Gateway District, along Robert Rose Blvd. and Willowoak Trail.
  • Set Sept 2nd for a third public hearing on a controversial condominium and single-family housing planned development on 58.7 acres along Compton Road. Neighbors had objected to the original proposal as having too much density and feared it would cause traffic problems. Concessions by the developer may have quieted the oppositions. Only about 15 people turned out for a neighborhood meeting Monday on the project.

In response to neighborhood concerns, the applicant eliminated zero-lot-line homes from the plan and increased the number of large lots and their size from 11,000 to 12,000 square feet.  He also cut the number of condominium units from 145 to 64. It will be interesting to see if the residents show up at the public hearing.

  • Accepted a site plan for a trailhead to a new Greenway Trail that the Army Corps of Engineers will build along the East Fork of the Stones River. . The proposed trailhead will be located just east of Central Valley Road.
  • Approved the site plan for a small shopping center at the intersection of St. Andrews Drive and Cason Trail. The original plans for the commercial development date back to 2007, but the only thing actually built there is a convenience market.

Honda dealership will be nearly 50,000 square feet

The nearly 50,000 square foot Honda building will be located on the south side of John R. Rice Blvd along an I-24 entrance ramp and just north of Rack Court. Auto dealerships are permitted by right on the parcel, which is zoned Commercial Highway and Gateway District Overlay-1. The applicant also proposes to build two accessory buildings on the parcel, a 3,145 square foot loan center and an automatic car wash.

The plan calls for buffering to shield the neighboring homes, and there will be no access off Rack Court, which ends in a cul de sac just south of the parcel.The buffer will be 15 feet wide and will include a fence and two rows of evergreen trees.

In May, Umansky acquired the Honda franchise and the dealer’s current location of Church St. from Reddell Honda for $6.12 million. Umansky’s plans for the Church Street parcel are not clear. This will be the third auto dealer in the city’s Gateway District, the others being GM and Toyota.