A major addition to the Arcade Building in downtown Riverside looks to be on the fast track, after the Riverside village board on Monday night cleared away an impediment that may have slowed the development.

At their board meeting on May 16, village trustees voted 4-2 to allow developers whose plans fall short of the number of required commercial parking spaces to pay the village $5,000 per parking space in lieu of creating the parking onsite.

In the case of the Arcade Building, 1 Riverside Road, that means developers will have to pay the village $150,000, since a proposed three-story condominium addition falls 30 commercial parking spaces short of what’s required, according to an opinion by the village’s
legal counsel that was revealed May 12 at a special meeting of the village Plan Commission.

“We either want some type of redevelopment in this town or we don’t,” Village President Harold J. Wiaduck Jr. said Monday night. “We shouldn’t give [incentives] away, but we shouldn’t make it so difficult that people don’t want to come here. These are locations in sore need of redevelopment.”

Voting to approve the $5,000-per-parking-space buyout for developers were trustees Candice Grace, William Scanlon, John Scully and Thomas Shields. Voting against the measure were trustees Cindy Gustafson and Kevin Smith.

Smith was outspoken in his criticism of the proposal, saying that by passing the $5,000 fee Riverside was providing no incentive at all for developers to provide commercial parking in the plans for the downtown area.

As a result, he said, the village would be forced to construct parking lots that would cost far more than $5,000 per space to build, which would be an unnecessary burden on the village.

“We’re actually doing a disservice to the village,” Smith said. “Rather than dealing with this issue, we’re picking a [dollar] figure that serves no one but the developer. We need the development, but at whose expense. The number has to be high enough for the developer to at least consider parking.”

The board majority, however, appeared to be following the lead of the Plan Commission, which on May 12 voted unanimously to set the parking buyout fee at $5,000 per space. The fee structure was lower than the one suggested by Camiros Ltd., the company the village used to lead the rezoning of the downtown business district in 2002-03.

The Camiros plan called for charging a $5,000 fee for the first five commercial parking spaces required by code and $8,000 for any space over five. After a short discussion, the commission decided to scrap the tiered approach.

At the same meeting, the Plan Commission also unanimously approved the site plan for the Arcade Building redevelopment. Developers will now need to seek approval of their plan by the village’s Preservation Commission.

Members of that commission got their first crack at the Arcade plan on May 12 at a special joint meeting of the Preservation, Landscape Advisory and Plan commissions, which was held just prior to the Plan Commission’s special meeting.

During a fairly wide-ranging discussion of the project by Preservation commissioners, there appeared to be just minor exceptions to the proposed addition, which would add nine condominiums and enclosed first-floor tenant parking directly east of the historic 1870 structure.

“The site plan is fine, the scale is fine and the plan is OK,” said Charles Pipal, chairman of the Preservation Commission. “The devil is in the details.”

Before going forward, developers must get what is called a Certificate of Appropriateness before the Plan Commission can give its final OK to pull building permits.

Donald Price, president of the Wexford Development Group, which owns the Arcade Building, expressed some frustration over that the recent decision by the Plan Commission to require 30 new commercial parking spaces for the development. Originally, the plan was deemed in conformity with the zoning code.

But at least two Riverside residents, Nicholas Cariello and Thomas Barr, complained that the development didn’t conform to the new business district zoning code and required commercial parking since the building was undergoing a major reconfiguration. Barr sent a letter to the village on April 27 threatening a lawsuit unless the plan was made to conform with what he saw as a “reasonable interpretation” of the zoning code.

Eventually, the village’s legal counsel agreed that the new code did require commercial parking for the new development.

“It’s going to impact us,” said Price. “It takes money out of the restoration of the Arcade Building. I’d much rather put the money into the building. We didn’t design something cheap. Now we have to put pencil to paper and see if we can build it.”