A Revised, Resized Plan For Ridgewood

13 02 2014

Things are getting a little complex with the development planned at 1 Ridgewood, a Cornell Heights parcel squished between Ridgewood and Highland Avenues. First, the revised plans for the smaller project. While the original plan had 64 units in one large building, this proposal has shrunk it down to 45 in three buildings. Notably, even with the size change, the overall design is not all too different, materials and massing look to be the same as before. One floor has been removed, giving three floors over an underground parking garage (a small surface lot would also be built on the property).

ridgewoodapts_v2_1

The focus is now more on the western side of the property facing Ridgewood, with less attention given to the Highland Avenue side of the property in this updated plan. Since the tendency with student-focused projects is to count the bedrooms, the 45 units contain 114 bedrooms for occupancy.

ridgewoodapts_v2_2

One of the complicating factors in this project is the zoning change proposed for the property. Currently, it’s R-U, which is less restrictive than the R-3aa they are proposing to rezone the parcel to. At its best, it’s an attempt to mitigate increasing developer interest in the historic district; at its worst, its a heavy-handed attempt to stunt development. For the record, this and the Thurston Avenue Apartments project seem to be (have been?) the only two underutilized parcels in the affected area. The revised 1 Ridgewood project PDF goes out of its way to note that this project just barely meets the R-3aa requirements, so even with the zoning change, no variance would be required. This is important, because some neighbors are fiercely opposed to any development of the parcel whatsoever. They would be able to shut the project down much easier if it were seeking a variance, but since it doesn’t, it gets a lot harder. We’ll see what happens as this makes it through the bureaucratic rounds.

EDIT: Ha ha, silly me to think they might let this one go. The Common Council is voting on additional restrictions to the R-3aa zone that would effectively kill this project. The proposed language adds a special amendment for historic districts such as Cornell Heights that says that any new building can’t have a footprint more than 120% of the average footprint of the historic structures on a block. Cornell Heights historic structures are mostly mansions in the 1,500-2,000 sq ft footprint range, which these exceed. This amendment seems to be explicitly targeted to keep this project from happening.

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One response

14 02 2014
C.J. Randall (@upstateplanner)

The walk score on this is a deceptively low 42. The project is steps from a major foot bridge, but it’s also pretty far from real groceries, which is the largest multiplier of foot traffic you can put in a neighborhood. But the higher the numbers in Collegetown, the higher they’ll be in the surrounding area, if nothing more than as a draw for daily amenities. Thanks for the pics!

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