Chapel/Howe Plan Goes 10 For 10
by Allan Appel | Oct 10, 2012 12:57 pm
Over the threat of a lawsuit from a neighbor, a developer’s controversial plan to build apartments at the corner of Chapel and Howe took a big step forward Tuesday as city zoners gave a final OK to a slew of variances.
By a unanimous vote Tuesday night, the Board of Zoning Appeals granted developer Randy Salvatore the legal “hardship” he requested for the project.
The vote enables him to proceed to the City Plan Commission with a site plan review for his five-story, 136-apartment, 53,000 square-foot development. And it eradicates the current public surface parking lot and stuffs 50 spots behind a street level retail and 40 or so on the concealed lot in the back.
The BZA vote followed a contentious initial appearance before the agency in September. At that meeting, many local businesses and groups offered support for the denser, more car-less development plan. Others expressed concern for 1249 Chapel, a historic building imperiled by the project. Abutting property owner Susan Bradford and several others argued vehemently against the plan, citing concerns about noise, light, and quality of life.
A week later, the City Plan Commission approved a reduction of parking spots in the plan to 90 from a required 144. Commissioners acted in the face of opposition from several young professionals who insisted that—contrary to planners’ claims about their increasingly public-transit-oriented life styles—they indeed do have cars, they drive, and they need the spots.
Salvatore showed up last week before the Dwight Central Management Team. He offered to make minor modifications to his plan and delay next steps for two months to discuss plans further with neighbors.
At Tuesday’s meeting Bradford, who co-owns 70 Howe that abuts the proposed site, vowed to fight the project with an appeal in Superior Court.
“They approve. I appeal. There is no hardship,” Bradford said.
Commissioner Victor Fasano disagreed.
In the brief deliberations that preceded the vote, he declared the irregular parcels Salvatore has assembled comprise a hardship in their original configuration. A new BD-1 zone created in that area aims to foster precisely the kind of denser, public transit-using mixed development that Salvatore brings to the table, Fasano argued.
His argument carried the day.
Salvatore said he was “very pleased with the decision.” He said he will continue to meet with neighbors to gather more information and to bring his site plan to City Plan commissioners to review within 45 days, likely in November.
As to Bradford’s threatened lawsuit, he said, “She has a right. We believe the ruling will stand.”
Tags: Randy Salvatore, Chapel West
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Note to editors; the BZA does not “grant hardship”, they grant variances to account for hardships.
I’m not disagreeing with the intent fo this ruling, but Mr.Fasano’s logic is flawed if he thinks that “the irregular parcels Salvatore has assembled comprise a hardship”. Legal hardship cannot be self-created; since the irregular parcel was assembled, it falls squarely into the realm of self-creation.
Once again, variances are being used when really, new rules should be fashioned.
Great news. If it really moves forward, it will be exciting to see this neighborhood actually develop. Most of the opposition here is from locals who currently change charge big dollars for crappy apartments and parking. Of course, these people don’t want to see competition move in.
The real hardship is going to be having such an ugly building in a historic district.
Yup @ Bill - the parking lot is so much more aesthetic. All Bradford is concerned about is having to spend money to spruce up her propoerty to compete.
Approval of this over-scaled and low quality project is a terrible precedent for development in the City.
There is grass roots opposition to this project and not just from large landlords.
The City clearly wants this done and is ready to do spot zoning.
Would East Rock allow this? Not without a fight.
Same thing for the Dwight Street Historic District.
As we go, so goes the City.
@Dwightstreeter… How much taller is the proposed bulding(s) than 70 Howe or YMCA Bldg?
Why is it “low quality”?
The answer to your question is; the project has overly repetitive architectural elements (boring); lack of refined proportions; facade appears to be made of EIFS (styrofoam); cliche and boiled down corner cupola; overall very generic and strip-mally. That being said, people in the midwest fall all over each other for this kind of stuff and maybe in this kind of struggling NE city we can’t have champagne tastes with budweiser budgets.
Good point, robn. Keep in mind that in 20 years, when the West Village of New Haven becomes as expensive as the West Village of Manhattan, the styrofoam easily can be torn down and replaced with something by RAMS.
Buildings do not last forever - even “historic” wood frame houses are often replaced, or moved, in order to encourage development, jobs, and an end to empty parking lots within the urban neighborhoods that desperately need them.
to Just My View:
The building’s height is not as important as its size. Salvatore got a variance (granted by the Board of Zoning Appeals really, really stretching the requirement of “hardship”) to cover 52.5% of the land where the zoning permits 25%.
His plan eliminates the 8 ft side yards and 17 ft front yards to ZERO!
Hardieboard is hardly a match for the architecture in the neighborhood. It screams cheap and not built to last. It does go up fast though.
Finally, the street level parking with blank windows is a mugger’s dream.
The real question is why the thoughtful people in New Haven are forced into an adversarial situation with its government representatives time and again.
Why is it a battle to get sidewalks or new construction that fits with historic neighborhoods?
@Robyn - thank you for your response. I have seen similar designs in Denver (Cherry Creek) and in Ann Arbor. With all due respect to those in the neighborhood, to have someone willing to spend their own money in an area of the City that is being transformed from what it once was in the 70’s/80’s is something to be appreciated and not chased away.
@Dwightstreeter - In my opinion - the reason people are forced into an adversarial situation with government representatives time and again is because the overwhelming number of people want to force their opinions/will on others when they have no legal right to do so. beauty is in the eye of the beholder I guess.
Thanks for helping me see another side.
robn hits the hardship issue on the nose. But SOC and jmv, that is my building your insulting! I dare say that the pride of ownership in 70 Howe Street is unmatched and the best managed and maintained building in the city! See our reviews under Beazley Property Management. http://local.yahoo.com/info-31149512-beazley-property-management-new-haven
We are NOT against development of this corner. We are against the OVER development proposed by RMS. All we have asked is that the powers that be, stick to the district approved neighborhood plans that respect ALL community interests involved - instead of spot zoning - for the sake of economic development and grand list interests only.
Our objections are in the best interests of our tenants and the community. Competition has nothing to do with it, as 70 Howe is “vintage”. We restore and replicate. Our apartments would not be a competing market for the likes of what is proposed.