West Village Developer Wants Dogs, Food Trucks and Shipping Containers at Cityplace

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At some point, the vacant triangle of land running along the west side of Central Expressway just north of Lemmon -- the plot where the McKinney Avenue Trolley recently laid down its new turntable -- will house tall buildings, mostly offices, 30 and 40 stories high.

That's the idea at least, but the economy sucks and Neal Sleeper, president of Cityplace Co., thinks it could be another five, 10 years before the time is right for building. In the meantime, Sleeper, the man behind the development of West Village next door, doesn't want it to just sit there, as it has since the Hank Haney Golf Center was taken out two years ago.

So what to do with a desirable, eight-acre parcel of real estate that's not quite ripe for development but likely will be within a decade? How about an outdoor movie theater, food trucks, a dog park, and shipping container retail? How about temporary and permanent restroom facilities?

All of the above are mentioned in Cityplace's request for the city's blessing on what planning staff blandly describe as "low intensity/interim uses." The City Plan Commission has already given Cityplace the go-ahead for the unusual zoning tweak, and the City Council is set to make a final decision next week.

Already, Sleeper says he has a couple of concepts that are more or less ready to launch, pending an OK from the city. One is a small (1,500 square feet or so) restaurant, which Sleeper said will both be reminiscent of New York City's Shake Shack and have an attached dog park. On the other side of the trolley turntable would be another restaurant, only instead of a dog park, this one would have an entertainment area for concerts and the like.

The other ideas -- the outdoor theater and shipping container, hopefully not the restrooms -- were tossed around during brainstorming sessions, but no one has made any concrete plans.

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