A new policy in the City's Growth Management Plan is scheduled to go before the Municipal Planning Board February 18th. It's a development incentive to benefit developers and meant to increase hotel and visitor activity in the Downtown Community Redevelopment Area. See Map Here
If approved, the policy would exempt spaces like conference centers, meeting centers, and ballroom spaces from what's called the Floor Area Ratio Calculation (FAR for short) in new commercial construction projects.
FAR is the measurement of a building's floor area in relation to the size of the lot the building will be built on. It expresses the intensity and potential impact a commercial development can have on a city. It can be used to "limit the intensity of land use to lessen the environmental impacts of development or to control the mass and scale of development," according to the Metropolitan Council (Website).
This means a developer can build a bigger building than normally allowed if it contains a conference center, meeting center, or ballroom spaces of significant size.
The new policy being presented to the board reads as follows:
"In order to increase hotel and visitor activity in the Downtown Community Redevelopment Area that will also support new retail and restaurants, and consistent with the Marketplace (Retail & Services) component of the Project DTO Implementation Plan (2015 Update to the Community Redevelopment Area Plan), mixed-use projects which contain a significant conference/meeting center/ballroom component shall be eligible for a development incentive that exempts such space from commercial floor area ratio calculations. The Land Development Code shall include standards to define “significant” conference/ meeting center/ballroom space."