The Grandview Heights Planning Commission Feb. 17 tabled Metropolitan Holdings' request for a revised development plan for its property at Grandview and Haines avenues.

The Grandview Heights Planning Commission Feb. 17 tabled Metropolitan Holdings' request for a revised development plan for its property at Grandview and Haines avenues.

The developer is asking for a new Planned Unit Development (PUD) to replace the one city council approved in 2007 when Metropolitan Holdings submitted its original plan for the property.

The developer's original concept, which was approved, called for a four-story mixed use commercial/residential building with more than 7,000 square feet of retail use on the first floor and a total of 24 condominiums on the upper floors.

The current economic climate made that plan unworkable and forced a rethink of what could be done at the property, said Matt Vekasy, president of Metropolitan Holdings.

Vekasy said he discussed with city officials the possibility of trying a three-story building with apartments located over retail use, "but we just couldn't make the numbers work. Unless we could get a (tax) incentive from the city, it just didn't make sense.

"We have to do something with this property," he said. "I'd love to have a retail component; that's what we originally proposed."

The developer is now proposing to cosmetically rehabilitate both the interior and exterior of the two existing buildings on the site, which house a total of eight residential units, and to develop three new carriage houses at the rear of the property.

The new carriage houses would add five residential units to the development and provide 17 garage spaces. Two of the carriage houses would contain two one-bedroom units over six garage spaces. The other carriage house would contain one three-bedroom unit over five garage spaces.

This new plan reuses the existing buildings and with the price range for the new residences expected to be between $130,000 and $200,000, the development will appeal to a market that is not being served in Grandview, Vekasy said.

When the planning commission approved Metropolitan's original plan in 2007, the planned retail space offered an opportunity "to try to get some commercial vitality and mass on both sides of Grandview Avenue," said Patrik Bowman, director of administration/economic development. "Certainly this would change that.

"It's a very difficult task to meet the developer's concerns and the community's concerns," he said. "We have not come up with a solution to date, but there may be one out there."

The commission should consider the community plan for the Grandview Avenue district and how the new plan for the site fits in with the plan's goals, Bowman said.

"If it does go condo, we'd like to see more density so it brings a little more value to the property and the community," he said.

"We have a responsibility to keep the big picture in mind," added Sheila Clark, president of the city's planning commission. "We did work on the Grandview Avenue overlay district. We need to be mindful of what that says and what the planning premises are as we consider (proposals) that come before us for Grandview Avenue development."

Planning Commission member Dorothy Pritchard said she understands "the pinch" the poor economy has put on developers like Metropolitan Holdings.

"But if you go forward (with the new plan) this is here for 50 or 60 years and we've lost a tremendous opportunity for economic development on Grandview Avenue," she said. "Our commercial strip is the economic vitality of the community right now."

P'Elizabeth Koelker, city council's representative to the commission, asked Vekasy if his firm had considered converting the property into business condominiums.

"There are kind of ideas of live/work (concepts)," he said. "Financing is an issue. The zoning would have to allow it. It is an interesting thought."

Live/work development is a residential concept that is zoned so a resident can run a business from a residential unit.

Grandview Avenue is a location "that could lend itself very well to that concept," Mayor Ray DeGraw said.

Vekasy said he would have to research to see if such a concept could work for his company.

"I'm certainly all in favor of commercial" uses if they were feasible, he said.

In addition to considering whether some sort of commercial use could work on the site, the commission also asked Vekasy to consider concerns members raised about Metropolitan's plan to remove a number of trees from the property.

Metropolitan's application was tabled until the commission's March meeting.