Lifescape is gearing up to move forward with more employee parking, but a nearby homeowner says not so fast. The facility that provides services for adults and children with disabilities wants to build a 150-space lot west of its building on 26th Street. For 17 years, Lifescape’s been buying homes on Elmwood. The homes were rental properties, and Lifescape has moved most of them off the block to prepare for a lot. However, a neighbor is opposing this plan, and has concerns about how it will affect her neighborhood.
175 employees work at this Lifescape location. Some park along the streets, and others park in leased spots at the VA Health Care System across the street. Those leases expire next May.
“Those vehicles have to have a place to park. They’re obviously our staff,” Rick DiSanto, vice president of support services for Lifescape, said.
That’s why Lifescape wants the City Council to re-zone these properties. DiSanto says Lifescape started buying these homes in 2001 to hypothetically lay the foundation for a new parking lot.
“We’ve purchased them as they became available. We had a 20-year lease and we had to prepare for the eventual possibility we wouldn’t be able to renew that lease,” DiSanto said.
Jannelle Cain lives on the block behind the street, and doesn’t want to see a parking lot there.
“These were affordable home properties that were leased for a lot of years by people in need,” Cain said.
Cain also worries a parking lot will lower nearby property values and bring crime.
“There are drug deals, there are kids that ride skateboards, there’s noise,” Cain said.
Lifescape is also in the middle of a feasibility study to decide whether to update its more than 60-year-old building or move. Cain says she doesn’t want to get stuck with a parking lot if Lifescape leaves for a new facility.
“Essentially what we’re doing is putting the cart before the horse because we don’t know if they’re going to stay,” Cain said.
DiSanto says the possibility of moving would be more than five years away, and this building needs the lot anyway.
“Whoever would want it is going to need parking as well,” DiSanto said.
DiSanto says the proposal has made it through the Planning Commission and a first reading by the City Council.
The Council is set to vote on this on Tuesday. If approved, this would also change South Elmwood Avenue, which would become a drop-off zone for Lifescape.