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GREEN BAY - Vainisi Plaza, the proposed four-story, mixed-use office building on the northeast corner of Lombardi Avenue and South Ridge Road, cleared its first hurdle.

Green Bay Plan Commission on a 6-1 vote Monday approved a change in the city's comprehensive plan that would allow the 40,000-square-foot building immediately north of Lambeau Field and northeast of the Green Bay Packers' Titletown District.

Tim Kuehn, who owns nearby Margarita's Famous Mexican Food & Cantina, is the developer. The site of just under three acres now includes an older, single-story structure, known as the Vainisi Office Building, and several houses. The building would be close to Lombardi Avenue and include three floors of professional office space and first-floor retail, including possibly a coffee shop or sandwich shop. A rooftop patio is planned.

A number of houses directly north of the building would be removed for a parking lot.

Neighbors, as they had during a public meeting in February, expressed concerns about traffic on Thorndale Street, which runs along the north side of the property. Early plans show an exit onto Thorndale from the project's parking lot. There also would be exits onto Lombardi Avenue and South Ridge Road.

John Cordry, who has property where the driveway would meet Thorndale, said he can imagine car lights shinning directly into the house.

"If they can just keep all the traffic off Thorndale, I could live with the building on the corner," he said.

Dave Sherry, who lives on Thorndale, said he would like the driveway removed from the project.

"If you are not listening to the neighbors, it's not neighborhood friendly," he said.

Kuehn said the building might include a coffee shop or restaurant and would be attractive to neighbors as well as tenants. The Thorndale driveway would be a way for neighbors to access the site without having to go to busier South Ridge Road.

"It's part of the connectivity to the neighborhood," he said.

That said, Monday's meeting was not about approving the site plan, which will come later. The commission agreed it would change the comprehensive plan – the big picture – to allow Kuehn to request rezoning and, after that, final approval.

Paul Neumeyer, senior planner/zoning administrator for the city, said the building would be a logical step in the evolution of the area and provide a transition from Lambeau Field and the Titletown District to the mostly residential neighborhoods to the north. He recommended the comprehensive plan change.

"Our staff has not been supportive of the exit on Thorndale," he said. "There would be more scrutiny on this going forward."

The Plan Commission recommendation goes to the City Council on May 17 and, if approved by the council, will return to the commission for a zoning decision on June 13. It would then come back for approval of a planned unit development, and have at least one more public hearing.

Contact rryman@greenbaypressgazette.com and follow him on Twitter @RichRymanPG, onInstagram at rrymanpgor on Facebook at Richard Ryman-Press-Gazette. Or call him at (920) 431-8342

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