Croatian Ambassador Neven Jurica to visit
Adriatica Village at Stonebridge Ranch
By TRICIA SCRUGGS McKinney Courier-Gazette
Croatian Ambassador Neven Jurica has accepted an invitation to visit the site of one of McKinney's most anticipated planned communities, Adriatica Village at Stonebridge Ranch.
According to a statement released Friday by the Blackard Group, on July 7, Jurica will tour the 44-acre development on the southeast corner of Stonebridge Drive and Virginia Parkway that seeks to replicate a coastal Croatian village "in the heart of Stonebridge Ranch."
"This project received lots of publicity in Croatia," said spokesperson Snjezana Pavlovic who was hired by Blackard to serve as a project consultant. "Everyone is building Italian and Greek-style villages, but Croatia is a relatively new name for many of the people here."
She said the main purpose of Jurica's visit is to see the conceptual plans and to witness the measures being taken to ensure the "project is going to be as authentic as we are proposing it to be."
In February, after nearly two years of wrangling over zoning and ordinance concerns the McKinney City Council gave Blackard's vision the green light along with more than a dozen pages of building regulations and restrictions to provide officials with more control of the every aspect of the project, from roofing materials to street pavers.
Following the zoning case, Don Paschal, a former city manager turned consultant who spoke on Blackard's behalf at the February public hearing, told the Courier-Gazette, that the rule was probably "the most stringent ordinance the city has ever considered to date...It's rare that you would find a developer who would be willing to be bound by these things."
The plan is to build the Mediterranean-style Adriatica Village project on the shoulders of Stonebridge Lake to resemble Supetar (St. Peter), Croatia, a small fishing village situated on a Croatian island on the Adriatic Sea.
Nearly 300 condominiums and 70 town houses will be included in the village with an estimated 225,000 square feet of commercial space. Limitations prevent construction of "big box" stores by capping square footage at 48,000.
Pavlovic said the first two structures will be commercial/retail buildings that so far will house a Keller Williams realty office, Starbucks and Blackard Group offices. Residential construction is slated for completion late in 2006.
"We are extremely excited that such a project is being developed in the United States. This is a premier example of a developer's determination to create an authentic atmosphere with many genuine elements," Ambassador Jurica said in a statement.
Previously, residents told city officials they feared the village would not materialize, leaving the city with more multi-family housing and adding students to a school district that is already struggling to keep up with the city's record growth.
"I think it's neat that they're having (Jurica) come because I think that once the project is completed it's going to be a benefit to the city," said Laurie Madeiros, a concerned citizen who has volunteered her time to monitor erosion controls for Stonebridge Lake.
Madeiros said at one point the project was suspended for a week by city officials after she and another resident documented failed control measures, but that "most of them have been resolved now."
"It's a complicated issue," she said. "So I have very mixed feelings about it."
Contact Tricia Scruggs at firstname.lastname@example.org