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Plan submitted for five single-family lots at ‘old Bristol’

       A proposal has been submitted to the city to divide the former Bristol/Bijou school site into five residential lots.
       Kevin Montford, who had initially considered twice that many residential units and a possible coffee house as one big integrated project after buying the site about a year ago, said he scaled back his ideas to “keep the costs down and make the design simpler.”
       Unlike his original concept, which would have required him to obtain a zone change and establish a homeowners association, the submitted plan can be approved by city staff.
       The one-acre site at 730 N. Walnut St. has been unused since the Bijou School's last semester there ended in May 2009. The only structure is a decades-old, 5,600-square-foot school building on the north half-acre.
       The plan is to break up the southern half-acre into four lots, leaving the north portion as one lot.
       Montford is planning to keep one of the southern lots for himself, with a friend buying another. The property as a whole has “proximity to the downtown and the Westside and it's near trails,” he said. “It's a long-term investment in that neighborhood. There are just not a lot of great downtown locations to be had any more. I'm really excited to build my house and be part of the Westside now.”
       Assuming city approval, Montford said he hopes to sell the north lot to someone else, who might be in a better position to possibly redevelop the school building, work out a combined residential/commercial plan and apply for a zone change (which would require City Council approval).
       Mike Schultz of City Land Use Review described Montford's proposal as “pretty basic” and without any major issues, but plans to “wait and see” on the response he gets from the postcards about the submittal that the city sent out to the neighborhood last week.
       “My impression is that people want to see something happen there,” Schultz said. “They're tired of the unkempt condition of the building.”
       He does not expect to hold a neighborhood meeting “unless I get a lot of comments,” he added.
       As for what the houses will look like, Schultz said that because the plan is for single-family lots in an existing residential zone, the city has no power over that. Also, although the surrounding neighborhood is an older one, it has a wide enough variety of home types that he does not see a single pattern that could be recommended. But Schultz said he will refer Montford to the “Westside Design Guide-lines,” a 2009 book that documents the various historic building styles on the older Westside.
       Montford said he is open to lot-buyers coming up with their own designs, but he would prefer that the construction on all the lots were similar to each other. He already knows that his own house will not match the neighborhood. “I don't think it's correct to try to copy old homes,” he said. “It will be a real nice look but not what's in the neighborhood now. It will be more glass and metal.”

Westside Pioneer article