Friday, January 18, 2008

Senior Housing Proposal Questioned

A developer who proposed five stories of senior housing behind the present senior center must return next month to continue a Planning Board hearing on the project.

The hearing will resume at 8 p.m. Feb. 7 in City Hall Library, 515 Watchung Ave.

Owner Steven Chung seeks to subdivide the property bounded by East Front Street, Roosevelt Avenue, Westervelt Avenue and homes on Orange Place. The 5-story building would have up to nine stores or offices on the ground floor along with services for the building. Chung proposes 80 1- and 2-bedroom rental units on the upper floors.

The Planning Board heard more than two hours of testimony Thursday (Jan. 17, 2008) on the application before deciding unanswered questions warranted a continuation of the application to Feb. 7.

The sticking points are the small size of the apartments and whether the new building might be better placed fronting on Roosevelt Avenue rather than on one-way Westervelt Avenue. The apartments do not meet the minimum of 750 square feet for 1-bedroom and 900 square feet for 2-bedroom apartments.

The discussion also included the board’s desire to see more landscaping. But architect George Jones said that could only happen at the expense of parking spaces.

Asked why the senior housing could not be built over the existing one-story East Front Street building, Jones said the current structure could not support the weight of four more stories. The plan called for splitting the expansive lot behind the one-story building and putting the new one across the middle of the block.

This writer broke the story in the print media last week. As a blogger, I was following up Thursday.

--Bernice Paglia


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