Apartments Coming To Historic Walter Camp Home

Christopher Peak PhotoAfter more than a year of back and forth with the City Plan Department, the historic home of Walter Camp will be converted from office space into apartments. But only 13 apartments.

The City Plan Commission has given the OK for a Long Island developer to convert 1303 Chapel St., a three-story, Second Empire-style structure built in 1900, into the 13 residential apartments.

Developer Eyal Preis had initially hoped to put 19 apartments in what also was the former office space for the AIDS Interfaith Network. But the Board of Zoning Appeals denied his request for a variance and a special exception because he couldn’t prove a hardship or need for either. So his team worked with City Plan staff to come up with a development plan that could work.

The new plan moves away from originally envisioned micro-apartments. It now creates 13 one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments and a four-story addition to the building instead of a previously proposed three-story building addition.

The project needed a special permit to allow for the conversion of the first-floor office space to residential space in a General Business District, or BA, and an RM-2, or General High Density, zones.

Markeshia Ricks PhotoAttorney Miguel Almodóvar said at last week’s City Plan Commission meeting, where the approval took place, that the 12 required parking spaces and a loading space will be tucked under the 5,000 square foot, four-story addition. The addition will feature two-story townhouse style apartments on the second and third floor. The project also will have bike parking space in the basement of the building along with other common amenity space.

He said the facade of the building will remain mostly unchanged except for the addition of a handicap accessible ramp.

“We will be preserving the historic value of this property,” he said. “The addition on the rear is the only substantial change other than the landscaping improvements and the removal of the curb cut.”

Almodóvar said the curb cut is nonconforming and will be removed. All traffic from the site will circulate one-way on Cofield and then back out on to Chapel Street. Estimated construction times is one year.

“It is a relatively straightforward project,” he said.

Michael Piscitelli, acting City Plan director, said that the team was to be commended for “a lot of extra effort to get the application into shape.”

“It is a significant distinctive building on Chapel Street,” he said. “I might speak for a very tired site review team that had to figure out the placement of the piers and the bollards to make it safe for the cars in the back. The applicants put in some time on this and should be commended.”

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posted by: jim1 on September 28, 2018  12:03pm

WHY DO WE HAVE ZONING LAWS?  CLOSE DOWN AND VOTE NO UNLESS THEY ARE MADE FOR THE HOMELESS THAT CAN PAY OR GET A VOUCHER.

posted by: robn on September 28, 2018  12:35pm

It would be nice if the developer got rid of the amazingly…AMAZINGLY bad stair tower glued onto the front of the building. There’s a charmer behind that monstrosity.

I remember the preceding article but didn’t remember it being reported as Walter Camps home!

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 28, 2018  1:05pm

Full Agreement Robn,

That stair tower needs to go! 
It is a very unique historic building, otherwise.

Hike!

posted by: wendy1 on September 28, 2018  1:53pm

We need subsidized housing NOW.

posted by: JCFremont on September 28, 2018  2:02pm

To bad we don’t have a group like The Savannah School of Design in Savannah Georgia which preserve and repurpose the cities historical buildings. I’m sure they would order the developer to come up with something other than the box sitting in front of the building. Isn’t there room in the back?

posted by: Patricia Kane on September 28, 2018  4:40pm

This is potentially a stand out building, if properly done.
  We have only 3 Historic Districts protecting any kind of standards. New Haven could easily lose many of its unique buildings to development pressures.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on September 28, 2018  8:10pm

Robn and Bill, I fully agree with you on the aesthetics of the tower. But I wouldn’t be surprised if it provides emergency egress for the second floor.

posted by: robn on September 28, 2018  8:23pm

KM,

As is yes but given that the number of units will most probably leave very little interior historical fabric intact, that stair tower could just as easily live inside the building envelope. If the facade is the only thing left, it should be prioritized when granting a special permit.

posted by: Bill Saunders on September 29, 2018  2:28pm

Kevin,

Regardless, a sympathetic ‘design’ could/would alleviate that problem..
That’s what happens when you ‘gut’ the central stairway for more ‘square footage’.

posted by: Kevin McCarthy on September 29, 2018  8:29pm

Robn/Bill, I hope that is what will happen. But moving the stairwell to the interior will reduce the leasable space - I’m not holding my breath.

posted by: Bill Saunders on October 1, 2018  12:29am

Kevin,

If it is about a secondary egress, put the ‘escape’ in the back.

If it is about maximizing square footage, these developers need to get with the program.
Everybody who owns/buys a historic property needs to have their feet put to the fire.
The complete bastardization on the back of ‘historicity’ is disgusting, frankly.

Unfortunately, the only real enforcement is public opinion.
The Historic Commission is no help, they are an actual joke!
The Zoning Ordinances are no help either.

Stand up for the integrity of our historic downtown, Kevin.
If you don’t want to, and would rather make excuses, you are part of the problem!!!!!