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Council Combs Through Modified Crandall Arambula Plan

Anthony Pollreisz, K2 Radio

Casper City Council discussed the final round of amendments to the city’s downtown redevelopment plan on Tuesday.

Previous drafts of the controversial strategy assembled by Portland-based firm Crandall Arambula called for a $50 million hotel and conference center, the demolition of the Natrona County Public Library and the construction of several parking and housing structures in place of existing businesses.

Casper’s vice mayor and Ward II councilman Paul Meyer says the plan has been trimmed down to something that’s easier for councilors to digest.

“As a council tonight, we said, ‘no references to the conference center, and, again, we’ll welcome any business or any development downtown,’” Meyer said. “We’ll deal with them on a case-by-case basis.”

Ward III councilman Steve Cathey has concerns about the modified plan. He says he will have trouble supporting a strategy that uses public funds to stimulate redevelopment.

He also says he doesn’t approve of using city money to construct the hotel that remains in the revised plan.

“I think there will be some changes made, I’ll wait to see what the final document looks like,” Cathey said.

Cathey also says he’s concerned that the plan, as it’s written, will encourage the development of low income housing in the city’s downtown area.

The amended plan advocates construction of about 300 apartments, condominiums and town homes “… within walking distance of the North Platte River and 2nd Street.”

Councilors generally endorse plans for new public outdoor spaces and signage outlined when the plan was first presented. The amended plan also champions the construction of a 60,000 sq. ft. “retail anchor,” like a grocery store, and 25,000 sq. ft. of “street-oriented retail near the public plaza.”

Council will vote on the modifications after final revisions are made by city staff.

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