Planning Board airs Delaware-Virginia site plans; Developer to appeal Preservation Board rejection
Although the city Preservation Board has rejected plans for the former Cloister restaurant site at the northwest corner of Delaware Ave. and Virginia St., the developer is appealing the decision while working on modifying the plans to try to overcome objections. Representatives of Scott S. Croce, the developer, told the city Planning Board July 29 that the Preservation Board's decision will be appealed to the Common Council.
The plans are being changed to make the proposed medical building on Delaware Ave. appear less horizontal and more vertical by altering the external skeleton - outside braces - and placement of windows, Richard E. Stanton, the developer's lawyer, and Matt Moscati, the architect, told the Planning Board. Matt Moscati said he is working with architects on the Preservation Board to revise the plans for a new submission.
The Planning Board deferred action, and Chairman James Morrell said the board may hold another hearing after revised plans are received. The existing plan is "not acceptable because of the lack of verticality and the horizontal aspect" of the proposed building. He urged the applicant to continue discussions with nearby residents, adding "I think that [the] process [of] resident buy-in, synergetic consensus, has to be strengthened," he added.
Andrea Rebeck, an architect representing Preservation Buffalo Niagara said, "it's too big, too long, too massive and fortresslike. It's not pedestrian-friendly. We've tried to work with the developer. There hasn't been much movement." She advised efforts "to achieve a more compatible design." In addition to a three-story office building housing Scott Croce's chiropractic offices on the ground floor and other medical offices on the upper stories, the $3-million project would include three townhouses with garages on Virginia St.
The project would include demolition of the one-story 1960s building which housed the Cloister restaurant and then a business newspaper. The site has been vacant for several years.
A house at the site, 468 Delaware Ave., occupied by Samuel L. Clemens (Mark Twain) and his bride from 1870 to 1871, was destroyed by fire in 1963. A carriage house, the only surviving portion, is visible on Holloway Alley, and under the Croce proposal would be visible in part from Delaware Ave. Opponents of the project criticized the lack of plans for future use of the carriage house. Parking for the project was a concern to several at the Planning Board hearing. The plans provide for 19 parking spaces for the medical building and garages for three cars on the ground leel of the houses. Thomas Chwalinski, a Planning Department staff member, said the number of parking spaces did not meet city standards and a variance from the Zoning Board of Appeals or a revision of the plan would be needed. Peter McNally, a Park St. resident, said, "I appreciate the design. We should think in the 21st century." A flyer bemoaning the plan's parking provisions distributed to neighbors should be disregarded because it was unsigned, he added. Ginger Schroeder of 497 Delaware said she represented Citizens to Save Allentown and "we're opposed to the design," calling it "a giant toaster oven." She also criticized the project's landscaping, effect on pedestrian traffic, and "overall impact on the neighborhood." Gloria Cannon, regent of Katherine Pratt Horton Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, which occupies a nationally registered Midway house across Delaware Ave., said, "we're concerned about the façade and size, [but] we would like to see that corner used."