After a long night of testimony on both sides, the City of Rochester's Planning Commission opted last night to table Morgan Management's application to build a 99-unit apartment complex on University Avenue, in the East Avenue Preservation District. The application should resurface later this month.
Leading the opposition to the project was Bruce Barnes, director of the George Eastman House. Eastman officials say that the building would disrupt the view from the east side of their property. But their major criticism is that the proposed apartment complex is not permitted, they say, under the planned development district which was created in 2011.
The district includes the GEH; the Hutchison House on East Avenue; a parking lot at 850 East Avenue; 16 Portsmouth Terrace; and the Monroe Voiture veterans club -- which is on the site of the proposed project. According to Eastman officials, the purpose and intent of the PUD is to "recognize and permit a defined area for the delivery of programs and community services offered by George Eastman House and the Monroe Voiture 111 and to provide for the orderly growth and development of the properties."
The Morgan application does not meet those standards, Barnes said at last night's meeting. Morgan's representatives disagree.
Other critics of the project cited parking problems, the importance of defending the preservation district, and the size and scale of the planned apartment building.
Those in favor said that the complex would inject life and vitality into a "dead zone" on University Avenue, helping to transform the street into a bustling corridor. And the upscale apartments that would be in the Morgan building are just what young people and empty-nesters -- the demographics that are moving back to the city -- are looking for, supporters said.
If the Planning Commission approves, the project goes back to the city's Preservation Board for a final sign-off.