Neighbors, commission dissatisfied by changes to Grandview Avenue project
A representative of the developer proposing a four-floor mixed-use project on Grandview Avenue says he heard the frustration of the building's potential neighbors "loud and clear."
Crossley Development has presented a revised plan for the project that reduces the number of residential units and attempts to decrease the fourth floor's impact on the Broadview Avenue residents whose homes are located behind the site, 1229-1237 Grandview Ave.
But both Grandview Heights planning commission members and residents who participated in the commission's June 17 virtual meeting continued to express concern about the size and scope of the project and its perceived incompatibility with the character of the Grandview Avenue district.
The commission's meeting was its second preliminary review of the proposed project. The developer is expected to bring the project back to the commission for a final hearing and vote for recommendation in July.
An initial preliminary review was held Nov. 20, and the revised plan attempts to incorporate the concerns that were raised last fall, said Ryan Crossley, a Marble Cliff resident and one of the principals of Crossley Development, a family-owned company.
The two properties are zoned C-2 commercial. The two single-family homes at the site were grandfathered in when the commercial zoning was established.
The two homes would be demolished to make way for the new development, Crossley said.
The feedback the developer collected from planning commission members and residents at the last meeting, as well as from discussions with city staff, was constructive and productive, he said.
"We heard loud and clear that we missed the mark" with the original proposal, Crossley said. "We have in earnest worked really hard to revise our plan so that we have the right fit for this community and the Grandview Avenue strip and district."
The major change from last fall is that the building has been completely removed from the rear setback, he said. The site plan now places the building 25 feet from the rear property line.
Seven of the residential units have been eliminated, so now the project proposes 22 condominiums on the top three floors, Crossley said.
The number of fourth-floor penthouse units has been reduced from eight to four, and the amount of ground-floor retail space has been increased by 44% from 1,560 to 2,250 square feet, said David Brehm, one of the members of the new team of architects working with Crossley Development on the revised plan.
The building design has been revised so that the fourth floor would not be visible from the street, Crossley said.
"The building will show as a 3-story building," he said.
"Those units on the fourth floor are not visible to any of the residential neighbors (who live behind the site on Broadview Avenue). The balconies on all of our units are now not visible to any of the neighbors."
The applicant is seeking approval of a preliminary major site-plan review, a conditional use to allow residential units on the upper three floors, and several variances, including to the height limit for a building adjacent to residential units of 35 feet and to eliminate the off-street loading-zone requirements. A demolition permit also is requested.
Planning commission member Sarah Kelly said her primary concern remains with the height of the proposed building and whether a 4-story structure would serve as "a proper step-up" to transition from the lower-profile Bank Block to the 3-story building at the corner of First and Grandview avenues.
"This is a block within Grandview of 1- and 2-story buildings of smaller height," she said.
"I think you still have a problem. You're still exceeding (the vision set by) the Grandview Avenue Overlay and it is a distraction, notwithstanding the efforts that have been made for quality design."
"I would still like to see something that fits in more into the corridor," commission member Frances Rourke said.
The single-family homes on the development site "obviously don't fit" in the C-2 commercial zoning and are there only because they have been grandfathered in, she said.
"That doesn't mean we're going to replace something that doesn't fit with something else that, even though it's completely different, still doesn't fit," Rourke said.
Consideration of how the project would affect nearby residents -- not only on Broadview but also on Haines and Second avenues -- must be taken, she said.
Several residents participated in the meeting to voice their opposition to the development as proposed.
Travis Ulmer said his family, including his 8-year-old daughter and 5-year-old son, lives on Broadview Avenue directly behind the development site.
"My kids can likely hit it with a paper airplane from their sandbox. It's that close," he said.
Ulmer said planning commission members should reflect on how the project as proposed would affect his family and others who live adjacent to the site.
The location of the dumpster that would serve the development -- and the associated odor and noise -- would be no more than 5 feet from the spot in the backyard where he plays catch with his children, he said.
The building height would be 42% greater than permitted by city code, and the building would be closer to nearby residences than other buildings in the Bank Block, Ulmer said.
Without an off-street loading zone, moving trucks would have to be parked on Grandview Avenue, and couches, boxes and other items would have to be carried across the street to the building, impeding pedestrian flow, he said.
"I support development of the site, but I am adamant that it be in code and within the guidelines set by the city," Ulmer said.