Brookside Downtown will present a request to fill two vacant storefronts on Elm and Ninth streets to the Board of Adjustment on Tuesday evening.
The apartment complex wants to move its leasing office, currently located on the second floor of the building, into one of the vacant spots on Ninth Street next to Shakespeare’s Pizza.
“The leasing office is better than the vacant space,” Patrick Zenner, development services manager for the city, said. “Even if it’s not ideal.”
Zenner said he hopes the leasing office could create decent foot traffic, even if the spot was originally intended for a busier business like a store or restaurant.
The vacated leasing office space would then be turned into two four-bedroom apartments.
Brookside also wants to build a three-bedroom apartment in the northwest corner of the building, which would be accessible through the public alley running between Eighth and Ninth streets.
Brookside is also hoping to fill the vacant property on Elm Street next to Dunkin’ Donuts with two apartments: one four-bedroom and one three-bedroom. But by doing this, Brookside would be violating city ordinances.
First, Brookside would keep the two apartments on Elm Street at sidewalk level, instead of elevating them three feet above the sidewalk to fit city code, according to a city staff report to the Board of Adjustments.
Zenner said this ordinance is mainly about privacy. He said Brookside has not proven how its design would be better in terms of privacy and visual design compared to what code requires.
The Elm Street apartments would also cause Brookside to exceed the maximum of 200 bedrooms in a single structure, according to the staff report.
Several other downtown apartments currently exceed this 200 bedroom code, including Rise on 9th on Ninth Street, but they were built before the new ordinance went into effect in 2017. This is the first application the Board of Adjustment has faced that is trying to get around this newer ordinance, Zenner said.
“You have to think about overpopulation and trash generation,” Zenner said. “We’ve learned from our mistakes when other student housing was being built.”
The staff report to the Board of Adjustment recommends not allowing Brookside apartments to break either part of the code.
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