Riverside, like other communities stretched out along commuter rail lines, has wisely moved to amend its ambitions and its zoning to allow somewhat higher density residential development in such areas.
Happily, though modestly, developers have seen the opportunity and brought forward proposals for multi-story projects focused on the downtown area and its rail lines.
Now making its way through the layers of local government review is a plan for a 22-unit apartment building on Burlington Avenue. If approved it will replace a non-descript and long-demolished commercial property.
The developers, Lion Development II, have a positive history with smaller developments in Riverside. Its officials appeared before the Planning and Zoning Committee recently and made an effective case. There is one simple zoning variance necessary — rezoning one of four parcels in the site to allow it to be used as parking.
Otherwise, the proposal fits well within the updated village zoning meant to attract such projects. In a memo to the committee, Village Planner Anne Cyran said the project aligns with the village’s goals for adding density through smaller infill development.
Of course, there are a handful of detractors. Always. They object to the height at 5 stories, though that is within zoning parameters. This project is not a “monstrosity.” One neighbor worked to tell the village its business, insisting that issues related to shifting underground utilities had not been considered. The developer has acknowledged in a public meeting that if there are utility issues, they will be the burden of the developer.
As happens, this proposal will wend its way up the village council. We expect a decided thumbs up from that body as this project is just what the village council has been working toward for Riverside.
One of the happy evolutions we’ve watched over years in Riverside is the grassroots growth of an arts community that we really didn’t know we had. This has been an organic process, with homegrown leadership that was always inclusive and supportive.
The Riverside Arts Center is the hub around which this diverse and creative community has grown.
“People came out of the woodwork and said, ‘I want to be part of this,’ because something was missing at that point,” recalled Kim Freeark, daughter of one of the founders, Ruth Freeark.
Now it has been 30 years and the Arts Center is celebrating that milestone with a gala event. A well-deserved moment for a group that hosts 16 exhibitions each year, actively engages with young artists in our schools, and has genuine ties to our community.
Riverside is a more creative and engaging community because of the welcoming approach, the all-in attitude, of the Riverside Arts Center.