Planning commission unanimously rejects Grandview Avenue redevelopment proposal

Alan Froman
ThisWeek group
This rendering provided by Crossley Development shows the view from Haines Avenue of the proposed 4-story mixed-use building the developer had proposed for 1229 and 1237 Grandview Ave. Tthe Grandview Heights Planning Commission on Dec. 16 unanimously rejected the developer's major site-plan review application.

It was clear to Ryan Crossley even before the vote was taken Dec. 16 that the Grandview Heights Planning Commission was going to reject his company's proposal for the redevelopment of the residential properties at 1229 and 1237 Grandview Ave.

The decision was perplexing, Crossley said, because the commission seemingly was going against the vision for Grandview Avenue set by the city's own community plan and the Grandview Avenue overlay-district standards.

The commission voted unanimously to reject Crossley Development's request for a major site-plan review for its proposal to construct a 4-story mixed-use building at 1229 and 1237 Grandview Ave.

The rejection of the major site plan review made moot the need for the commission to consider the applicant's other requests for the project, including approval of a conditional use to allow residential units on the upper three floors, a variance from city code to increase the standard height when a new building is adjacent to a residential district, a lot consolidation and a demolition permit.

His family-owned company has spent the past 18 months fine-tuning its plan for the redevelopment of the properties it now owns, Crossley said.

"The feedback from the planning commission is quite clear," he said. "We've come back to the commission four times. Every time we came back, we've made concessions and major changes."

In an effort to respond to the concerns raised about the project's size and scope and impact on Broadview Avenue residents whose homes are behind the development site, the developer reduced the number of residential units from 29 to 22 and reduced the ceiling space on each floor, Crossley said.

The project cannot work with any lower number of units, he said.

"I'm disappointed to hear feedback that we haven't hit the moving target that was presented to us at every meeting," Crossley said. "I don't know what else we can do for this board."

The two homes that sit on the site were built in 1900 and 1915 by the Salzbarger family  and did not change hands until Crossley Development purchased them, he said.

"This is a 100-year opportunity for the city to execute its vision in the overlay, and this board chooses not to execute on that vision," he said. "Obviously, you don't see the same vision that we do for this site."

Planning commission chairman Jamie Gentry noted Crossley's own description of the redevelopment proposal as a "100-year opportunity."

It's just that the developer and the commission have different ideas of what the opportunity could and should be, Gentry said.

"I'm sorry if this proposal elicits some feedback that isn't favorable. This is a very important part of Grandview Avenue," he said.

He said he appreciates the passion that Crossley, who lives in the community, has for the project and would like to see Crossley Development retain the properties, he said. 

"I hope we can see something that everyone can get excited about," Gentry said. "We need to have a higher bar. We want to see the best thing happen for this property as well."

Planning commission member Sarah Kelly restated her concerns about the scale, massing and height of the proposed development. It's still too large to serve as an appropriate transition from the Bank Block buildings to the former Masonic Lodge building that is at the corner of Grandview and First avenues and just south of the project site, she said.

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Crossley said his company would go back to the drawing board and determine what it should do with the properties.

"Do we fix up the houses and sell them? I don't know. Do we rent the houses and wait 10 to 20 years (to try another redevelopment effort)? I don't know," he said.

Crossley should take heed of the comments and suggestions commission members have been making over the past 18 months and consider whether – not now, but eventually – it would be possible to create a project that would include other properties on Grandview Avenue, commission member Robert Wandel said.

The staff report presented to the commission recommended approval of the development's application. 

Case manager P'Elizabeth Koelker said the proposed project appears to meet the intent of the overlay-district standards,which were created to enhance the community plan's vision for the Grandview Avenue district as a compact and pedestrian-oriented district with a mix of residential, office and commercial uses, she said.

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