Plans are underway for the empty lot at the corner of 43rd Street and Baltimore Avenue. What began as a basic residential complex has expanded to 7,300 square feet of retail space, 108 residential units, 25 to 35 condo units and 93 parking spaces.
The project is a partnership between New York-based Thylan Associates and U3 Ventures. Property owner Clarkmore Group, LLC is overseen by Thylan. Meanwhile, Cecil Baker + Partners, a local architectural firm, will help with the design of the building.
“We’ve gotten through the process where we’ve basically identified the type of building that we’d like to build with the community’s overall approval or overall ‘buy-in’ to that type of project,” said Alex Feldman, senior associate at U3 Ventures.
Developers held community meetings to ask neighbors for ideas.
“I think the community, the larger community not just the association had some significant impact on what their plans became,” said Mark Wagenveld, Spruce Hill Community Association (SHCA) vice president for operations.
Until U3 Ventures obtains entitlements from the city, Feldman said, the project is “in a holding pattern.”
According to the Office of Property Assessment, Clarkmore Group bought the site in 2008 for $3.5 million. The project’s conditional zoning permit, was obtained on March 11. On March 25 the new city zoning code took effect, changing notification requirements for developers and community organizations.
The proposed parking overlaps with the public Health Center 3 next door. Developers have discussed the option with the center director.
Wagenveld said he favors the developers’ proposed brick on the northern face of the building.
“But at the same time I don’t think that architects should try to imitate what was built a hundred years ago,” he said. “I think that’s false and you have build with what the standards are of the day.”
Wagenveld expressed skepticism at the idea of having stores in the building.
“I don’t know personally how much demand for retail is there on that location,” he said. “Baltimore Avenue is not necessarily a prime retail location.”
Wagenveld did not speak on behalf of the SHCA zoning committee. The committee has remained neutral on the project.
“If there is going to be retail, we prefer that it be something community-orientated and something that would fit into the neighborhood,” Doug Naphas, Friends of Clark Park (FoCP) secretary, said.
FoCP addressed a formal letter to the SHCA zoning committee stating its overall support for the project, with suggestions like terracing and green features. U3 Ventures is considering different sustainable building methods for the project.
“People are welcome to live in our lovely neighborhood right next to our lovely park and use our park,” said Tony West, a board member of FoCP. “Our concern is the impact that people will have on the park.”
Feldman said the hope is for a 2015 completion date, but nothing is currently finalized. The full plans are available on the project website.