A realty company won approval Thursday to create two new three-bedroom apartments downtown.
FY Realty proposed the development at 206-206 West Front Street, over a Texas Weiner restaurant. The company will provide parking by way of two paid permits in adjacent Municipal Parking Lot 4. (Although the state Residential Site Improvement Standards base parking requirements on bedrooms, Planning Director Bill Nierstedt said TOD-D - Transit-Oriented Development Downtown - calls for one per unit.)
Because there is no way to add balconies or other open space to the property, the company agreed to make a contribution to the city to be used for green space elsewhere.
Man Pan Kwok, speaking for the company, said the building will have cable installed, no satellite dishes and will have central air conditioning rather than window units.
Architect Brian M. Taylor said large windows on the facade that had been partly covered will be restored and each 1,250-square-foot unit will have its own laundry facilities. The building shares a party wall with one next door and stairs to the second floor must be accessed through the other building. He said a second means of egress is not required.
Mailboxes for the apartments will be added to existing ones outside the building. Residents will have keys to the building and cameras for security, but no buzzer system to let guests in.
"That's why people have cell phones," the architect quipped.
Councilwoman Gloria Taylor, the governing body's liaison to the Planning Board, raised various objections to the proposal. She said the open space contribution should be given to the tenant, not the city.
"Give them a spot," she said, repeating that open space was to be provided to the tenant, "not put in the coffers of the city."
She also has security concerns, telling the architect, "I'm not satisfied with the way you addressed it."
She said criminals could get in and "jump from roof to roof."
"It needs an alarm system," she said.
The board gave preliminary and final site plan approval to the proposal, with Taylor casting the only "no" vote.
Note: The city's downtown has several buildings with unused upper floors. The application struck me as a possible harbinger of more investment to come in restoring space over ground-floor commercial uses downtown. In 2006, when talk of transit villages was new, I posted "Old Urbanism, New Urbanism" on the topic. Take a look if you wish.