A developer's attempt to bring dozens of new apartments to Marble Cliff at the expense of a beloved but often-empty mansion fizzled last week.
Village Council was unanimous April 16 in its rejection of a redevelopment plan for the property at 2015 W. Fifth Ave.
But that does not mean F2 Companies and Elford Development will necessarily give up their effort to build at the site.
A revised concept presented during the meeting reduced the number of apartments that would be built and represented the minimum scope that would allow the project to remain economically feasible, according to developers.
While council did not hold a formal vote on the concept plan presented by the developers, all six council members indicated they could not support the revised plan, even though it reduced the number of apartments from 67 to 55.
After hearing council's feedback, Mike Fitzpatrick, a partner with F2 Companies, said he and his partners will "need to reflect" on what they had heard and consider whether there was any way to further reduce the scope of the project and keep it economically feasible.
"We can perhaps come back" with a revised plan, he said.
Since the meeting, "the developers have touched base with us simply to indicate that they heard what we heard," Fiscal Officer Cindy McKay said April 23.
The developers have not formally withdrawn their application and may yet return with a revised plan, she said.
"We'll have to wait and see," McKay said.
The developers' revised concept plan reduced the number of units by 18 percent for the three-story building proposed for 2015 W. Fifth Ave.
The revision would not have reduced the size of the building being proposed, but was an attempt to address the concerns that many village residents had raised about the project's density, Fitzpatrick said.
"A big concern people had was about traffic density and the impact it might have on the neighborhood," he said.
Reducing the number of apartments would lower the number of residents and the amount of traffic going to and from the site, Fitzpatrick said.
Fewer units would not mean a reduction in the size of the proposed building itself, he said.
Some spaces would be combined, especially in the corners of the building, to create larger two-bedroom apartments with added features that might include an office or den, walk-in bathrooms or his-and-her walk-in closets, Fitzpatrick said.
The project would continue to include one- and two-bedroom apartments only, he said. None of the larger apartments would have three bedrooms.
"This is as small of a project we feel we could do that would meet the needs of the community and also be economically feasible for us," he said.
The revised plan took into account the feedback received from residents, council members and preservationists, Fitzpatrick said.
The latter group was concerned that the developer planned to demolish the 110-year-old mansion that now sits at the site. The former residence, now mostly vacant and used as an office building, was designed by renowned architect Frank Packard.
The structure of the building, its condition and how it sits on the site would not allow it to be saved and used as part of the residential project, Fitzpatrick said.
Certain elements of the building would be kept and incorporated into the new building to maintain some of the historic character of the current structure, he said.
Council members' comments echoed the concerns that have been raised by residents, including the project's density and the amount of traffic it would generate, but especially the development's mismatch with the village's character.
"It's still big. The size of the building has not declined," Councilwoman Kendy Troiano said. "I'm less concerned about the traffic congestion and more about the aesthetics of it. It just doesn't fit in with the rest of our village."
"Our village is only three streets long," Councilwoman Joanne Taylor said, adding that a project of this size and scope would be "a monstrosity" for the quaint community.
The more he thought about the concept for the project, Councilman Dow Voelker said, the less convinced he became that "this is something we would want to bring into our village."
While the developers made a good-faith effort to respond to criticisms and already have invested much time and money in their project, "we have to take our residents into account. It's something they don't want," Troiano said.
Fitzpatrick asked council for some guidance as to the scope and size for a project they thought would be viable from the community's standpoint, but council members did not offer suggestions.
"I don't have a number. That's not my job," council President Matt Cincione said. "It's not something I will put out there. I'm not an architect."
The developers would not want to present another revised plan "if the community doesn't embrace it," Fitzpatrick said.
The concept plan would have been only the initial step in the process to approve the project.
The developers later would have needed approval to demolish the existing office building and an adjacent building and seek approval of a formal, detailed preliminary plan.