Five-story project to have 79 units, vehicle access off Grand Avenue

Changes are in the works for a proposed $32.5 million mixed-use development on the current site of Dixie’s on Grand, Saji-Ya and Emmett’s Public House at 695 Grand Ave. The development team of Reuter Walton, ESG Architects and the Kenefick family reviewed revisions to parking access, loading zones and the mix of proposed apartment units with more than 115 people who joined an online meeting on April 8.

It was the second of two public meetings held to review the project. The Keneficks, who own the property, want to replace the one-story structure that houses the three restaurants with a five-story building with three ground-floor commercial spaces, a mix of one- to three-bedroom apartments on its upper floors, and underground and ground-level parking.

The developers have reviewed “hundreds” of questions and comments, and have made changes to the project, said Ari Parritz of Reuter Walton. One was to reduce the number of apartments from 81 to 79 by taking out four smaller units to create a pair of two-bedroom units.

Dixie's on Grand
Changes are in store for Dixie's, Saji-Ya and Emmett's at 695 Grand Ave. Photo by Brad Stauffer

Building details were changed to provide more articulation on the north and east sides, with limestone on the first floor, and brick and metal bronze metal accents on the upper floors.

   

Another change is in vehicular access and the use of the Grand-Summit alley behind the building. The original plans showed 73 underground residential parking spaces being accessed from the alley. The building also was to have a setback from the alley for commercial deliveries.

The revised plans call for a loading zone on Grand in front of the building. Resident vehicles will enter from and exit onto Grand through a controlled gate. The building would also include 32 commercial parking spaces accessed on Grand and Saint Albans.

Saji-Ya and Emmett’s plan to reopen in the new building, but Dixie’s will not. Dozens of suggestions for the third commercial space have been made, ranging from different types of restaurants, a small grocery store or a locally owned coffee shop. The developers have contacted the Neighborhood Development Center with an eye toward bringing in a minority-owned business.

 

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The most controversial issue on April 8 was the developers’ plans to seek an exemption to the East Grand Avenue Zoning Overlay District, which limits building heights to three stories. Several meeting attendees said that they do not want to see the overlay district set aside. However, Reuter Walton representatives said the five-story height is necessary to make the project financially feasible.

“We’re not able to make the project work within the confines of the overlay district,” Parritz said.

The proposed changes drew a mixed reaction from those at the meeting, with some neighbors expressing support and others saying they want to see a shorter building with fewer apartments. Some pushed back against bypassing the overlay district as well as the involvement of three members of the Summit Hill Association board in an initial planning process.

The developers have reviewed “hundreds” of questions and comments, and have made changes to the project, said Ari Parritz of Reuter Walton.

“It’s going to destroy the property values of the surrounding houses and apartments owned by people who invested in this neighborhood with the belief that the overlay district would be maintained,” said neighbor Jake Klisivitch. “No one has properly explained why this project cannot be conceived of within that overlay.”Other residents liked what they saw. “This is a well-thought-out project,” said Paul Sand. “I’ve never seen this level of neighborhood engagement. They’ve listened, even though there’s no requirement to do so. This shows good faith. This is a very good project for the neighborhood—not perfect, but a massive improvement from the existing building and surface parking lot.”

Parritz and Reuter Walton president Nick Walton said they have heard strong public support for the five-story building and the market-rate housing options it would provide.

This spring, the developers hope to submit plans to the city for review. At this time, a change in zoning is being sought from commercial to Traditional Neighborhoods 3, which allows a height of up to 55 feet. The proposed building is 56 feet tall, so a conditional use permit would be required. Setback variances also might be needed .

If city approvals are obtained, the three restaurants would close this summer and the building’s demolition would start in November. Construction would take about a year, and people would move in by 2023.

—Jane McClure

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