Monday, April 12, 2004

Hyde Park plans change

Building will have more condos; garage entrance debated

By Jennifer Edwards
The Cincinnati Enquirer

HYDE PARK - A plan for an $8 million to $10 million building on the site of a vacant gas station in the business district has cleared another hurdle.

The 55,000-square-foot Michigan Terrace building at Erie and Michigan avenues has won zoning approval for changes to the layout. Instead of 11 high-end condominiums, offices and retail, the six-story structure now will hold 18 condos, including three penthouses, and retail stores.

Bill Langevin, director of Cincinnati's buildings and inspections department, announced his decision Friday.

"The changes will lessen the impact of the proposed structure and were in the best interest of the community," he said.

Up next: a decision on a change to the underground parking garage entrance. That is expected soon from a city hearing examiner.

The entrance originally was planned for Michigan Avenue but now is proposed to face Erie Avenue, the main thoroughfare along Hyde Park Square.

The city's department of transportation and engineering already has approved it, saying it's safer, though some residents object and insist it will endanger pedestrians. Meanwhile, a neighbor opposed to the development has filed an appeal with Hamilton County Common Pleas Court to overturn Cincinnati's original approval of the building last fall, before developers changed its concept. That appeal was filed March 22 after an appeal before the city's board of zoning appeals was denied.

Developers Al Neyer Inc., and Lantrust Real Estate say they expected the latest approval. They have been taken aback by the opposition from some neighbors, including the Hyde Park Neighborhood Council, which has twice voted against the project.

Changes to the building plans are mostly to appease neighbors who had concerns about traffic, parking and safety, said Chris Knueven, Neyer's director of multifamily and retail development.

The upper two floors also have been tiered to reduce the noticeable height difference from neighboring buildings.

There also will just be one level, not two, of underground parking because the second-floor offices have been scrapped.

"We are trying to take out a gas station and put in a historically sensitive building," Knueven said. "I think that has somehow been lost in the whole process."

But members of the Hodory family, who own the Hyde Park Medical Arts Building next to the proposed site, say Michigan Terrace would cut their building off from the rest of the square. The family, which filed the court appeal, also thinks the building, expected to be 75 feet high, is too much for the elegant square.



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