Development in Plaza 20 planned, but few details released

Plans are in the works to redevelop a portion of Plaza 20 in Dubuque, and also to create an easement through the area.

Mentions of redevelopment in a section of Plaza 20 were made during last week’s Zoning Advisory Commission meeting, which discussed the lot that includes a building currently housing a Dubuque County GOP office, next to Harbor Freight Tools.

“(Plaza 20 officials) are proposing to redevelop (the lot),” said City of Dubuque Associate Planner Shena Moon at the meeting. “There is an existing structure there. That building would be demolished.”

Sarah Kahle Hutchinson, vice president of Plaza 20 Shopping Center, declined to comment when reached by the Telegraph Herald.

During last week’s meeting, Zoning Advisory Commission members voted unanimously to waive the requirement for the lot to have a frontage street. Instead, an access easement to the existing Plaza 20 east frontage road will be included in the lot’s redevelopment plans. The matter now will go to the City Council at its Sept. 19 meeting.

Commission Member Pat Norton abstained from the vote, as he instead spoke at the meeting on behalf of Plaza 20 for the waiver.

While reviewing the property, Moon said, the unresolved access point to the Plaza 20 frontage road at the Devon Drive intersection was brought up. That intersection has been closed since December 2020.

“A condition of this approval on this plat is to ensure that does get resolved,” Moon said at the meeting. “… The property owners are actively working with the city to resolve that.”

The Plaza 20 east frontage road intersection closed after plans were made for the Sonic restaurant. That intersection had suffered from traffic backup and safety concerns after Starbucks opened in 2018.

Following last week’s meeting, City Planning Services Manager Wally Wernimont said an easement eventually will be put in place going through the middle of Plaza 20, from the Devon Drive intersection to the connection with the frontage road by Harbor Freight Tools.

He said the easement is needed due to the legal requirement for businesses to provide access from public roads.

The easement also will allow for the official closure of the frontage road near Starbucks, he said, though the easement still needs to be officially approved.

“Approval of that easement will allow the city the ability to facilitate the closure of that east frontage road in Plaza 20,” he said. “It also helps preserve the flow of traffic eastbound and westbound through the Plaza 20 with granting of that easement for that property.”