Crossley Development offers revised plan for Grandview Avenue project

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group
This illustration submitted by Crossley Development shows a view of a proposed 4-story multiuse project at 1229 and 1237 Grandview Ave., as viewed from Haines Avenue. The developer is proposing office and retail use on the first floor and apartment units on the upper floors. Residents and planning commission members raised concerns about the size and scope of the project and its impact on residents who live on Broadview Avenue behind the project site.

The developer proposing a 4-story mixed-use project on Grandview Avenue has offered a plan with additional revisions,

The changes are an attempt to address the concerns previously raised by Grandview Heights Planning Commission members and Broadview Avenue residents whose homes are behind the development site, said Ryan Crossley, one of the principals of Crossley Development, a family-owned company.

The developer is proposing to demolish the properties at 1229 and 1237 Grandview Ave. and replace them with a 4-story building that would have office or retail on the first floor and apartments on the upper floors.

More:Neighbors, commission dissatisfied by changes to Grandview Avenue project

Crossley and project architects presented the details of the revised plan Oct. 21 to the planning commission. The discussion was the third preliminary review the commission has held on the project, which previously was discussed at meetings in November 2019 and June 2020.

After the last preliminary review, the developers invited Broadview Avenue residents and any Grandview resident who had submitted comments in favor of or against the project to attend one of a set of meetings held Aug. 13, Crossley said. 

The socially distant meetings were limited to 10 people for each session, and each resident who asked to attend was able to do so, he said.

The meetings with residents and staff have been productive and have allowed the developers to hear additional comments, criticisms and suggestions about the project, Crossley said.

"Then we went back to the drawing board with our team of architects and tried to address as many points as we could within the confines of the site and of an economically feasible project," he said. "We're confident we (now) have the right proposal and the only proposal that we feel would work for this site at this time."

One of the most significant revisions is that the proposed building design "now emphasizes and articulates a 3-story building with a fourth-(floor) penthouse that, depending on where you are, is either not impactful or not visible," Crossley said.

The building would be completely outside the 25-foot rear setback, requiring no setback variance, and would be set back 48.7 feet at the rear of the fourth floor so it has little or no visibility to the Broadview neighbors, he said.

The revised plan proposes 47 on-site parking spaces to meet city code, Crossley said. A parking variance no longer will be needed.

Additional parking spaces will be available for the development after an agreement is reached with the properties to the north and south of the project site, he said.

Under the agreement, Myers Real Estate, which is south of the project site at 1221 Grandview Ave., will be able to use the new full-size driveway the developer intends to install, and Myers has agreed to remove its driveway, Crossley said. That allows for the elimination of an additional curb cut on Grandview Avenue. Instead of three curb cuts as originally proposed, it will have only one.

Myers has agreed to allow the new development to use two parking spaces 24 hours a day every day that will face the new driveway and nine additional spaces on the real estate company's parking lot at night and on weekends.

The elimination of the curb cut will allow a loading zone to be placed on Grandview Avenue that the new development and other businesses will be able to use, Crossley said.

Residents had expressed concern about a planned outdoor dumpster that would sit near their properties, he said. The revised plan calls for the dumpster to be moved inside the new building, with a trash chute to provide access to the apartment residents on each floor.

Since the project originally was proposed, the number of apartment units proposed for the building has been reduced from 29 to 22, Crossley said. The first-floor retail/commercial space has been increased from 1,600 to 2,250 square feet.

"We do not yet have a user identified (for the first-floor retail space)," he said. "I've received inquiries from office and retail users." 

A boutique shop similar to other retail businesses along Grandview Avenue is possible, but a restaurant is not likely because of the limitations of the available space on the first floor, Crossley said.

Planning commission members continued to express concerns about the project, despite the revisions.

Her concern continues to be the scale, mass and height of the proposed building, commission member Sarah Kelly said.

The developer creatively has addressed many of the concerns that were raised in previous meetings and has made a good case for why the plan for a multistory building is justified, she said.

In previous meetings, Kelly said, she indicated her preference would be for a structure that would not be as tall and would provide a better transition from building to building on Grandview Avenue.

The question she is struggling with is whether the Crossley project would be "cohesive enough" with what surrounds it, she said.

"We should understand as a planning commission that this is a 4-story building, not a 3-story building," commission member Robert Wandel said. 

All the talk about the revised plan emphasizing the project as a 3-story project "is an architectural discussion, not a permit or building-and-zoning discussion," he said. "I have no problem talking about a 4-story building, but it should be talked about as a 4-story building and how best you do a 4-story building.

"I would suggest when you get to the fourth floor and want to make it seem like it's something special and different, you make it special and different" and not just something that is similar to the floors below it, Wandel said. "Residents have continually said (to the developer) they don't want you looking into their backyards. There's little improvement in the solution you've presented to solve their concerns."

The applicant is seeking several actions from the commission, including approval of a major site-plan review, a conditional use to allow residential units on the second, third and fourth floors and variances to the maximum standard height of a building located adjacent to a residential district and to the requirement of a off-street loading zone that would be replaced by the loading zone proposed to be in a parking space added onto Grandview Avenue.

When she is considering a request for variances, her question is always what is the hardship that requires the variance to be granted, commission member Frances Rourke said. 

"Why does this project have to be 4 stories? Why can't it be 2 stories?" she said. "I need you to sell me on what is the hardship that it has to be 4 stories and no other way."

Crossley said he and his partners looked at all types of options for the property, including commercial, office and residential and a combination of those uses. The restraints and requests set by the Grandview Avenue Overlay District the city had adopted in 2007 requires the developer to meet all sorts of mandates "that are, quite frankly, expensive," he said.

The number of units has been reduced from 29 to 22, the ceiling space of each floor has been reduced by 4 inches to reduce the building's height by a foot to a total of 48 feet 8 inches at the fourth-floor roof and the apartments planned for the fourth floor have been reduced in size, Crossley said.

"We don't see this project as economically viable with fewer than 22 units," he said.

The next step would be for the developer to return to the commission for final consideration and a vote.

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