Larchmont Village Trustees individually signaled their impressions of a proposed luxury condo project this past Monday after developer Gary Hirsch announced his willingness to make “dramatic reductions,” in his plans.
The Centro Larchmont building was first proposed months ago as a 5-story 26 unit building to be erected over a vacant stretch of commercial space on Chatsworth Avenue just south of Palmer. Opponents of the project insisted it was too big and the developer now says he’s willing to scale it down.
Hirsch told Trustees and some skeptical residents in attendance that Centro can lose one of the floors and five of the apartments with a narrower footprint that’ll reduce commercial space by 20 per-cent. “The building has to have a certain amount of scale to be successful,” he insisted, suggesting that 21 units and 40,000 square feet of commercial space is the lower limit of what he can live with.
Mayor Lorraine Walsh says she was impressed with the new upper floor setbacks and the suggested height reductions. “For Chatsworth this design works,” she said, although she remains concerned about the impact on Wendt Avenue properties at the rear of the building, which is now an open parking lot. A proposed elevated parking deck, while at first a selling point for the Village has become a focus of concern after traffic studies indicated increasing numbers of vehicles would be entering and leaving the structure throughout the day.
Trustee Carol Herman summed up her thoughts by saying “If a floor in the middle was removed it would have a more reasonable silhouette,” but “the traffic study gave me pause.”
Trustee Peter “Bubba” Fanelli says he’s generally happy with the project design but “I believe the parking deck will be reduced.”
Trustee Malcolm Frouman says the size is still an issue. “While I admire what Elk Homes (the builder) has done…I still would prefer a slightly lower building.”
Many opponents of the project focused on possible overcrowding at the Chatsworth Elementary School which services much of the village. Trustee Sarah Bauer said her concerns about that issue were satisfied by looking at other high-end apartment buildings in neighboring communities and in discussions with Mamaroneck School Superintendent Robert Shaps. “It’s not likely that we’re going to have that many kids,” she said.
So size matters and in this case, the project gets a little smaller, but parking remains a concern. If the proposed parking deck isn’t in the plan the Trustees and the developer will need to find a place to provide the extra space needed. “As much as we need more parking downtown,” Mayor Walsh said “This (Wendt Avenue) might not be the best location for it.”
Trustee Fanelli says interested parties should prepare for a long review process. Using a baseball analogy he said simply, “We’re only in the second inning.”
A proposed zoning amendment to accommodate the project has been sent back to the Village Attorney to be reworked.
The discussion needs to consider the fact that Larchmont doesn’t need and won’t be made a better place to live by urbanizing/developing more. The developers’ sole interest is making money. Our elected leaders’ interest ought to be making Larchmont a more livable community. More building, more cars, more crowding in schools, etc will only hurt our standard of living and quality of life here.