By Mark Chason
As residents of the Elmwood Village for 37 years, my family is extremely excited about the continued resurgence of our neighborhood and city. We are also pleased to have the opportunity to contribute to this vibrancy and growth through the development of 1111 Elmwood Ave. at Forest Avenue.
We at Chason Affinity have conducted significant community outreach and have gathered a great deal of public input, which has been incorporated into our recently unveiled mitigation design for this project. Despite these efforts, there remains a small but vocal group opposing this project.
The opposition is premised on the flawed concept that no variance should ever be granted under the recently adopted Green Code. This misunderstood notion is exactly why New York State law requires that variances be allowed if approved by a local municipality’s regulatory board, such as the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals.
The Green Code, like any zoning ordinance, is intended to promote good growth and good design. Since developments tend to have unique circumstances, flexibility in the form of variances can become an important tool in achieving those ends. Without this flexibility, development can be inhibited and the results cookie cutter.
Our proposed development will need variances that we believe are for the right kinds of reasons as they will allow for a project that is good for the community and local merchants.
We have broken up the Elmwood frontage with varied but complementary architectural styles incorporating townhouses, a pocket park, glass atrium and an updated classic section, with first-floor retail. On the Forest side, two additional townhouses step down in height.
Although internally a single building, what would be visible from the street would be nine different structures, along a very attractive streetscape. It would be almost impossible for anyone to tell that these are not individual buildings. What might surprise some is that our building as designed would be 26,970 square feet less than what could be built under the Green Code, with no variances.
We are confident that our project will create important retail and home ownership opportunities, which will bring new vitality to this end of Elmwood Avenue.
In addition, the 1111 Elmwood project would become an attractive gateway, connecting our cultural institutions to one the city’s most vibrant neighborhoods.
We look forward to moving this important development forward and making a positive contribution to the resurgence of our great city.
Mark Chason is president of Chason Affinity Companies.