LIVE OAK — With the parking lot at the Live Oak Center needing upgrades to accommodate an Elliano’s coffee shop, the Live Oak Community Redevelopment Agency approved a grant to help clear that hurdle.

The work at the shopping center on the south side of town that currently is home to Save-A-Lot and Goody's would include resealing and restriping the plaza’s parking lot for the new traffic pattern around the new business.

It will also be the first phase of the shopping center addressing non-conforming code deficiencies in the parking lot with the addition of island greenscapes.

The project is expected to cost $28,000. The CRA matches up to 75 percent of a maximum of $16,000 through the facade grant program.

The CRA board approved a business start-up grant for the Elliano’s franchise at its March meeting.

Jim Zuber, property manager for the Live Oak Center as well as project manager for corporate Elliano’s, said the hope is that the parking lot upgrades won’t delay the Elliano’s project.

CRA Executive Director Gabrielle Redfern said all plans for Elliano’s must be submitted and approved prior to the parking lot upgrades in order to ensure that the parking lot won’t be torn up for utilities.

“That’s the hope that this will be what it takes to get Elliano’s there,” Redfern said in response to a question from Councilman Mark Stewart.

“Our intention is not to hold up Elliano’s.”

Zuber said site plans for Elliano’s are currently in review.

“I’d hate to see them not to be able to open because we’re waiting on the facade grant taking care of the parking lot,” Stewart said.

Zuber assured Stewart and the board they will do whatever they can to make sure that doesn’t happen with Redfern crediting both parties for their “sense of cooperation” throughout the process.

The board unanimously approved the grant.

“I can smell the coffee already,” Chairman David Burch said.

“We’re excited about that one coming.”

Projects reimbursed

The board also approved reimbursements to Connie and Stanley Coley for a business start-up grant as well as a facade grant for work at CC Suites, located at 300 Pinewood Way SE.

Total the two grant reimbursements totaled $16,280.36. The board approved increasing the business start-up grant to $10,000 previously from the original $5,000 due to the complexity and multiple phases of the project.

“It looks very good and I appreciate you doing that,” Stewart said of the project.

Redfern named executive director

City Manager Ron Williams said the city previously had utilized a hybrid approach to the CRA program.

However, in the 13 months since Redfern came aboard as CRA specialist, Williams said she has more than proven herself deserving of the title of executive director.

“The fact that you have an executive director and I think you all would join me in saying she’s earned it over the past year through her efforts,” he said adding that it is also the title most commonly used by CRAs for the individuals in Redfern’s role. “She’s been able to bridge some good gaps in community efforts.

“I think it’s best for the CRA.”

Williams said with Redfern at the helm he urged the board to be aggressive pursuing some of the projects that are planned and included in the budget.

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