Keep Watch on New Plans
Plaintalker has written about the proposal for an office complex on the Tepper’s block and another for retail and residential development in the 200 block of Park Avenue. Although they have separate names, they are both Landmark proposals.
There is a third one that is coming up for preliminary site plan approval at the March 5 Planning Board meeting. It is the only one that is in the original North Avenue Historic District redevelopment plan. The former Romond Jeep and Budget Rent-A-Car properties are now owned by Arts Loft I, yet another Landmark subsidiary.
The applicant seeks approval to renovate a vacant two-story building and to put three additional stories on top of it. The first floor would be used for 3,737 square feet of retail space and the upper four floors would have five apartments each, for a total of 20 dwelling units, according to a legal notice.
The notice says the applicant believes no further variances or waivers are needed, but if the Planning Board says any are needed, the applicant will seek them. There is no mention of parking, either for customers or residents.
The original 2000 North Avenue redevelopment plan covered only three blocks by the main train station. Landmark received conditional designation as the redeveloper in August 2006. The redevelopment agreement wasn’t finalized until April 2007. A feasibility study for a parking deck was to have started within 30 days. Many other timelines were set forth on a chart, all with the apparent intention of redeveloping the entire three-block parcel.
The Park Avenue project is on a block that is an extension of the North Avenue redevelopment area, but according to a recent update on all the redevelopment schemes, no developer has been designated.
As previously described on the blog, the West Front Street site consists of two city-owned lots and the Appliance-Arama warehouse. The city blocks were supposed to be the site of a 12-condo development by Heartstone Development, but the plan was dropped.
So at present there is a flurry of applications by Landmark affiliates for residential and commercial construction on three different sites. The idea of comprehensive development for the three North Avenue blocks seems to be in abeyance, as is full-scale redevelopment of the PNC Bank block that is the North Avenue extension. This may be due to a court challenge by merchants to the possible taking of land by eminent domain.
There hasn’t been a public update on the status of redevelopment plans overall for some time. After months of relative dormancy, the sudden rush for approvals bears watching. It will be up to the Board of Adjustment and Planning Board as well as the public to scrutinize these plans thoroughly, both singly and collectively, for their impact on the downtown and for their relationship to previously established redevelopment goals.