Southside developer blows some smoke

Latest in a series of posts on 319-327 S. New St.

Proposed streetscape February 15 — HCC meeting February 22

ref: Another developer thinking big . . . er, tall
ref: The HCC discusses the proposal for 319-327 S. New
ref: “The current proposal for a 12-story structure is inappropriate”
ref: “What we have in front of us is going to be a big stretch for us”
ref: “Going to 5-6 stories definitely wouldn’t work”

You are wondering how last night’s meeting at the Historical Conservation Commission on the proposed development of 319-327 S. New turned out.

Gadfly was rather astonished at what occurred.

Remember that the ball was in the developer’s court.

The upshot of the January 25 HCC meeting on this project was the identification of several issues for the developer to address last night — especially the 12-story height of the building.

On January 25, Chair Gary Lader had called the 12-story height a “big stretch” for the HCC.

To a person, the Commissioners who spoke January 25, while recognizing appropriate stylistic elements in the facade design and positive aspects in the concept (apartments plus Food Court), had substantial concern about the height.

Commissioner Seth Cornish, for example, laid down a marker: a 5-story limit for the new project.

You will share Gadfly’s astonishment when you hear that the developer came back last night with the 13-story design that you can see in the rendering of the streetscape above.

13 stories. One more than last time.

WTH!

Without mentioning the height issue, the developer proposed dividing the issues. His desire for last night’s meeting was solely that HCC vote to approve demolition of the 3+ buildings (they would save the facade at the 4th building 321-323 S. New, as HCC had requested) with the understanding that the developer would not “pull the permit” for demolition nor actually perform the demolition till the issue of the size of the building was decided.

Gadfly likes to give you the flavor, the drama of the meetings he covers, not just the bottom line, so he invites you to listen to the developer make his pitch. You will recognize that, like on January 25, he again heaps up positive aspects of the project to obscure the height issue.

 

However true and good in what the developer says, it is all off-point, off the main point. He’s blowing smoke.

Commissioner Seth Cornish has a good smoke filter, though, for he immediately responded to the developer’s peroration with “I want to cut through, you know, to the elephant in the room, which is the height.”

to be continued . . .

One thought on “Southside developer blows some smoke

  1. I’m astounded. Astounded that this developer, having heard Commission say 12 stories was “a stretch” — given their established standard — would respond, “Well, It’ll really be 13.” Astounded that he wants Commission to grant a demolition permit BEFORE the crucial height issue is decided & wants us to take his word that he won’t use the permit — really? Astounded that developer commits the totally disrespectful act of ignoring Commission’s response to his initial request (“It’s a stretch.”), moving on as if Commission had not given that quite gentle (timid?) objection. Not nice, really, to act as if your conversant hasn’t spoken. Astounded that developer suggested (on the sly, parenthetically, hoping we won’t notice) that Commission approve a still higher structure. Developer’s behavior shows unabashed, arrogant disrespect. Big kudos to Commissioner Cornish for having the audacity to call attention to the discourteously ignored elephant in attendance — perhaps just in time before it does what such critters can do, even during parades.

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