It looks like the Avedis Foundation –– after four years of searching –– has finally located a place to call home.

It looks like the Avedis Foundation –– after four years of searching –– has finally located a place to call home.

Until now, the nonprofit has spent its toddler years in a strip mall at 3903 N. Harrison.

As a bonus, Avedis may have inadvertently resolved a troublesome issue for many area neighbors.

Proposed use of the site in question –– 1500 E. Independence –– has been a topic yielding much opposition since January, when Marical Brothers Real Estate requested a rezone from R-1 (single family residential) to R-2 (medium density residential) for the construction of duplex rental housing on the site.

More than forty letters of protest were received from neighboring property owners –– many of whom were present for the public hearing.

“The subject property has been heard a number of times this year,” Community Development Director Justin DeBruin said.

“Many of the practical concerns for this site have revolved around ingress and egress along Elm Street. If rezoned to office commercial, there can be no such access along Elm Street,” he said.

Unlike previous plans, this project does not intend to build housing units, nor will it cause traffic issues on Elm Street, he said.

Because only a small portion of the site will be developed, the applicant intends to preserve the abundance of existing trees, providing an environmental buffer between the site and surrounding homeowners, he said.

Avedis has a contract to purchase the property at the corner of Independence and Elm from owner Clayton Eads that was contingent upon rezoning it from R-1: Single Family Residential District to a C-1: Neighborhood Commercial District classification.

The rezone as well as a preliminary plat were unanimously approved Wednesday by the Planning Commission –– but not until concerns from former battles were quashed.

Commissioner Dell Kerbs wanted assurance that if Avedis someday chose to vacate the property, a new buyer wouldn't be able to fill it with multiple housing units –– exactly what dozens in the neighborhood have been fighting against.

“After what we went through for six months,” he said, “if we let that happen we would fail those neighbors. It's a big concern.”

DeBruin informed Kerbs that the site being zoned C-1 would not be sufficient for anything more than about 10 townhouses, at best.

“We really like this location because it is not on a busy thoroughfare, but is central,” Briggs said. “It is located conveniently to all areas of town.”

Avedis' intent for the property is to build an office building of approximately 7,000 to 8,000 square feet. The building will be used as the foundation's corporate offices.

The preliminary plans are to locate the office building approximately in the middle of the site.

“A park-like setting with beautiful, natural enhancements is planned, Briggs said.

There will be a sidewalk on the Independence edge of the property and the brick pillars will be removed.

“Avedis' corporate vision is to improve the health, wellness and quality of life for the people of Pottawatomie County,” she said. “It is our desire to further our vision with the development of this property as our corporate headquarters.”

She said Avedis sincerely looks forward to being excellent neighbors and corporate partners.

“It is our desire that upon completion of our development of this property that the City and our neighbors will view it as one more gift that we have granted,” Briggs said.

DeBruin said his office has not received any calls or letters of opposition.

In fact, during the Planning Commission meeting Wednesday, neighbors of the site came to voice their endorsement of Avedis' proposal.

Janet Jacobs, whose property backs up to the site, said she and her husband, Paul, have faith in Avedis and its plan to make its home there.

“We also appreciate the commission for protecting the neighbors,” she said.

Diana Inman, who lives on Elm Street, said she was thrilled with the plan and trusts Avedis.

Speaking of the months-long impasse neighbors had with potential developers over the site, she said it's been a long haul.

Carl Packwood also spoke in support of Avedis.

Planning Commissioner Regena Morton thanked the speakers for their willingness to come to the meeting and voice their support of the project.

“I don't see a anything better as an option for you,” she said. “This makes a good ending to it.”

The item goes before the Shawnee City Commission Oct. 17.

You can reach Vicky O. Misa at (405) 214-3962.