Tuesday night, the Riverside Village Board applied the brakes to a proposal to construct a four-story, mixed-use development at the corner of Longcommon Road and Burlington Street, opting to table the matter for at least two weeks.
Village President Harold J. Wiaduck instructed the property owners, Harry Liesenfelt and Nick Mlade, and the architect, Robert Kirk, to provide the board with written proof that the project would not be feasible if built differently.
“We keep coming back to the issue of making the case for hardship,” Wiaduck said. “I’d like you to address each of the variances and, using the criteria in the ordinance, try to make a case, a compelling case, for each of those.”
Kirk reiterated the case for hardship last night, saying that Riverside’s unique character and the importance of the site created the need for the development.
“What this site wants is what would be in keeping with the unique historic character of Riverside,” Kirk said.
As a result, Kirk said, construction costs for the project will be significantly higher than if the development was built elsewhere. In all, he estimated construction costs at over $7 million.
Kirk also revealed last night that the 20 condominium units in the development would sell for a minimum of $400,000, although it was clear that the fourth-floor penthouse condos, measuring between 2,800 and 3,200 square feet, would sell for much more than that.
“It is never our intent to push for something we don’t think is reasonable,” Kirk said.
Liesenfelt, the principal owner of the property has remained behind the scenes throughout most of the process. Last night, however, he broke his silence in an attempt to convince trustees the plan was in the village’s best interest.
“I consider this to be a superior project,” he said. “It’s the only project I’d build. I really believe the village needs something to get things going. I believe this is part of it and that it can be the catalyst for this to happen.”
Trustee Kevin Smith said that the building as proposed would be in direct conflict with the village’s zoning code for the Central Business District and would change the neighborhood.
“Somehow a building of this magnitude is not in keeping with the history of the village, and is antithetical to what’s along Burlington,” he said. “Something this massive does change the character completely. Why does it have to be such a large building?”
Trustees Cindy Gustafson and Dorothy Schroeder expressed concern that the development does not address the parking needs for a such a development, while trustees John Scully and William Scanlon pointedly had problems with access to the rear of the building and to the property directly north.
“What I do end up becoming uncomfortable with is this alley situation,” Scully said. “I’m struggling with an alley that’s going under the building.”
The Riverside Village Board will convene again for its regular Committee of the Whole meeting on March 7 at 7:30 p.m.