Jefferson Tower

The City Plan Commission last week approved a plan to rezone Jefferson Boulevard, 12th Street, Centre, Sunset and surrounding avenues from Beckley to Polk.

Only three people spoke at the public hearing, which started at about 6 p.m. Thursday.

Jim Lake Jr., whose company is redeveloping Jefferson Tower, told the panel that the purpose of rezoning is for the buildings to have a better, higher use. Jim Lake Cos. redeveloped Bishop Arts starting in the 1980s, and the company now is remaking the tower’s lower levels into retail and residential space.

Amanda Moreno, whose partner owns about a third of the property in the proposed special purpose district, said the change in zoning could help them take advantage of the full heights of the buildings. Many of the two- and three-story buildings are only occupied on the ground floor, she said.

Only one neighbor without commercial property interest in the area was there to speak.

Delories Hilliard, who lives on 12th Street, told the panel she didn’t want Jefferson to “turn into a Lower Greenville.”

Hilliard is in favor of the rezone, but said she fears changes could cause “moving people aside who have been there through all the developing years.”

“We want responsible improvements that don’t compromise what’s already there,” she said.

City Council must approve the zoning plan for it to take effect.