NORFOLK — The Norfolk City Council remains split on the future of the Depot Building.
The Council voted 5-4, with Mayor Josh Moenning serving as the tiebreaker, to advance a proposed zoning change for the Depot Property at 211 West Northwestern Avenue to a third reading at its meeting on Monday night.
Vandelay Investments is requesting a zoning change from Heavy Industrial to Multi-family residential so it could convert the property into high-end apartment units.
Councilman Jim Lange doesn’t support the idea of putting housing next to a rail yard.
“I see no place that that makes any sense,” Lange said. “It’s one of the worst planning decisions, that if this body decides to move forward with it, is just incomprehensible in my opinion.”
Multiple parties agreed that the yard has been used infrequently and has cars that have been sitting there for long periods of time. But, Union Pacific sent a letter to the Council saying the level of activity could increase in the future.
Mayor Moenning was the most vocal supporter of the zoning change. He says the proposal could help address Norfolk’s housing shortage and revitalize an old neighborhood.
“It’s either one or the other,” Moenning said. We have a housing shortage and we need to meet it and invite and be welcoming to businesspeople who want to develop in this town, or not. Or say, no, we will never change.”
If the zoning change doesn’t pass, the developer says they will likely ditch the historic facade, which would remain intact for apartments, and turn the building into garages and office space for contractors.
The final vote on the zoning change is scheduled for March 19th.