Clintonville Area Commission members gave their unanimous but tepid blessing Aug. 2 for a parking variance needed for a major project at the former White Castle and Patrick J's site that straddles the neighborhood's border with the University District.

The development proposed for 2725 N. High St. by Borror now is a 3-story structure with 4,480 square feet of indoor restaurant space, 1,200 square feet of seasonal outdoor dining area and 1,530 square feet of retail. Seven apartments would be on the ground floor, and the second and third floors each would have 22 apartments.

The entire structure would be within the boundaries of the University District, and variances required to permit residential uses on the first floor of a commercial building will be needed from that neighborhood's commission.

The only section of the proposal that's in Clintonville is a parking lot, and the variance Matt Canterbury, vice president of design and development for Borror, was seeking at the August meeting would permit those spaces to be to the side of the building, not behind it.

"We're trying to bring a very vibrant and beautiful building to the space," Canterbury told commission members.

"The mix of uses was designed to create a sustainable combination of business and residential uses to foster an active street life while remaining quiet enough for a successful residential community," according to a statement submitted on behalf of Borror. "The project is also intended to reinforce a section of High Street where walkability currently falls off sharply."

Attorney David Darby of Kooperman, Mentel, Ferguson and Yaross outlined the other variances needed from the University Area Commission, which is scheduled to hear from the developer in September. In addition to the ground-floor apartments, the project comes up six spaces short of the 66 required by city regulations, Darby said.

Although CAC members expressed enthusiasm for the design of the building and redevelopment of the site, they weren't as pleased at having a visible parking lot.

Khara Nemitz of District 2 asked Canterbury if a wall with plantings could be built to screen the parking lot from view.

District 9 representative B.J. White was more excited about the development.

"I enthusiastically support your efforts to do this," District 9 representative B.J. White told Canterbury.

She added that if University Area Commission members "shoot this down," her district north of Morse Road has plenty of sites available for such a project.

A discouraging word was heard from a lawyer who represents the owner of the property where Giant Eagle and Olentangy Village are, just north and west of the site, respectively.

Aaron Underhill said the parking variance almost certainly would result in customers for the restaurant and retail operations at 2725 N. High St. to park on his client's property.

CAC Chairwoman Libby Wetherholt pointed out that the parking variance is within the University District section of the project.

The vote to support the side-parking variance was 7-0, with District 6 representative Randy Ketcham absent and District 1's David Vottero withdrawing from discussion of the matter because his architectural firm is involved in the project.