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Park Grove wins go-ahead for Iroquois Lofts project in Larkinville

Rochester-based Park Grove Realty won city Planning Board approval Monday night for its plan to convert a vacant four-story warehouse in Larkinville into an apartment building.

Park Grove is planning to spend $16.5 million to convert the 93,500-square-foot former Iroquois Door Co. manufacturing and distribution center at 619 Exchange St. into 60 market-rate apartments, plus offices and a 267-seat restaurant.

Designs by Passero Associates for the new Iroquois Lofts call for renovating the brick-and-timber-frame complex into a mix of one-, two- and three-bedroom units with high-end features, totaling about 81,500 square feet, with another 8,000 square feet of commercial space and 5,500 square feet of restaurant space. The project includes a lobby, a club room, an exercise room and common areas for residents.

Originally designed by renowned female architect Louise Bethune, the building lost one of its floors in a devastating fire. The firm bought the building at the corner of Larkin Street in May 2019 for $1.45 million, and unveiled its general concept in late spring, with a goal of maintaining the building's historic industrial look.

"The building currently is extremely underutilized, and is in major need for repairs," said Park Grove managing partner Andrew Crossed.

Officials have begun the process of seeking historic tax credits, said architect Peter Wehner.

The masonry facade will be repointed, cleaned and restored, while all the windows will be replaced with identical modern versions that meet energy standards. A remaining Iroquois sign is also being saved.

Larkinville redevelopment project up for Planning Board review

Loading docks will be covered with glass overhead doors, while internal features like fire doors and elevator shafts will be left in place to preserve the history. A two-story commercial area will be kept "as open as possible," per state historic standards, but with the addition of a mezzanine level, Wehner said. "we see that as a dynamic open space for commercial use."

The project will include 15 interior parking spaces, and a 6,000-square-foot portion of the complex on the western end that is "structurally unsound and unusable" will be torn down to create 15 additional onsite parking spaces, Crossed said. There's also parallel parking along the street, he said, and the developer is talking with neighboring landlords about additional parking to alleviate potential concerns.

Planning Board members cited some hesitation with the parking shortfall, but noted that the building is located in a commercial area, not a residential neighborhood, and the Green Code no longer sets minimum parking requirements.

"Parking shortfalls are fairly common. We see less demand for cars these days," Wehner said. "There's a lot of solutions that could evolve around here."

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