EXISTING SITE CONDITIONS
The project site encompasses two adjoining parcels at 878 and 880 Elmwood Avenue located on the west side of Elmwood Avenue between Lafayette Avenue to the south and West Delavan Avenue to the north.
878 Elmwood is currently comprised of a vacant three-story, three-family home, which we purchased in late 2019. As we began staging for cosmetic updates on the house including new kitchens, baths and windows, our contractors uncovered substantial structural deterioration that has compromised the home’s structural integrity and safety. A detailed investigation by Studio T3 Structural Engineering confirmed the critical nature of the deterioration. Half of the major structural wood beams supporting the ground floor joists have failed and many of the ground floor joists are badly cracked and split. Several of the joists are visibly sagged. In addition, portions of the stone basement walls are caving in. These significant issues transfer vertically and are prevalent through the structure. The expansive scope and related costs for the needed structural repairs to make the home safe for occupancy are highly prohibitive and are not practicable.
880 Elmwood is a vacant, undeveloped parcel. Prior to this parcel being acquired, a multi-family structure formerly on the site suffered complete loss due to a fire in July of 2014.
WHAT WE ARE PROPOSING
Construction of a 3-story multi-family residential structure including 14 residential apartment units. The project would include off-street parking located at the rear, which would be accessed from the existing driveway located on the 878 Elmwood parcel. The existing driveway for the 880 Elmwood parcel would be eliminated with the combination of the parcels. A portion of the parking spaces will be covered where the upper floors of the proposed structure overhang the ground floor at the rear. This covered area will also provide space for resident bicycle storage. Bicycle storage will be provided and combined with other Traffic Demand Management (TDM) strategies will reduce vehicular travel demand and encourage transportation alternatives.
Designed by Abstract Architecture, the proposed building has been deliberately designed to complement the adjacent and historic neighborhood character in scale and architectural style. The basis of design for the new structure specifically references character defining architectural features on the exterior of the existing multi-family home at 878 Elmwood including the predominant circular bay at the southeast corner. As proposed, exterior materials include masonry on the ground floor of the primary elevation, along with clapboard siding and composite ornamental trim on the upper floors. The side and rear elevations will be comprised of clapboard siding and composite ornamental trim. In addition, several of the residential units on the 2nd and 3rd floors will include covered patios.
GREEN CODE COMPLIANCE & VARIANCES
While the proposed structure has been designed to align with the Green Code under classification as a Commercial Block building in the existing N-2C (Mixed-Use Center) neighborhood zoning district, there are a number of area variances that we believe will be preferable from a community character perspective to a project that strictly complies with all of the requirements in Section 3.2.5 of the Green Code. The area variances that would be needed to accommodate the project as currently designed are as follows:
- 3.2.5-D.A: Front Yard Building Setback
Required: Max. of 0′
While the Green Code requires a 0’ front yard setback, most structures in the block including the existing vacant multi-family home on the project site have a front yard setback in excess of 33’ from the Elmwood Avenue right-of-way. With the project being residential without 1st floor commercial space, a setback greater than 0’ seems warranted given the residential character of the block and immediate adjacent properties to the north and south. The proposed 12’ front yard building setback will also allow for a nicely landscaped front yard, further connecting with the adjacent properties. The following images illustrate the proposed structure with and without the proposed 12’ setback.
- 3.2.5-E.D: Ground Story Height
Required: Min of 15’
Without 1st floor commercial space, on the ground floor in the proposed building, it is our opinion that a 15’ minimum ground story height would be out of character and inconsistent with the neighboring multi-family residential properties.
- 3.2.5-F.A: Ground Floor Transparency, Front Façade
As with ground story height as described above, without a commercial storefront on the ground floor of the proposed building, it is our opinion that the required ground floor transparency seems out of character and inconsistent with the neighboring multi-family residential properties. While we have increased the amount of ground floor glazing and transparency relative to the upper floors, the further addition of glazing to reach the 70% requirement would ultimately result in the use of a commercial storefront system that would be out of character with the residential ground floor use.
- Infill residential redevelopment of a vacant, underutilized parcel
- Replacement of a vacant, structurally deteriorated and unsafe multi-family structure
- Reduction to a single driveway/curb cut for the project site resulting in the addition of on-street parking
- Addition of residents to the area which will encourage support of local business in the Elmwood Village
- Implementation of Traffic Demand Management (TDM) strategies to reduce vehicular travel demand and encourage transportation alternatives
- Will encourage further investment and property upkeep in the surrounding area