BOSTON HEIGHTS — Two companies that want to redevelop the Norwood Inn site with apartment units and office buildings are now seeking a different zoning change for the project.
The village’s planning commission on Wednesday, Jan. 5, reviewed a proposal from Crown Property Holdings LLC (dba Tapestry Companies) and Bevan Properties Inc. to build 76 apartment units and 14 townhomes at the Norwood Inn site at 6625 Dean Memorial Parkway and two office buildings on an adjacent property at 6555 Dean Memorial Parkway.
The site for the project is in a Retail Business District and in the Hines Hill Overlay, Mixed Use General Sub District, neither of which allow residential developments. The companies had sought rezoning of the land to allow for a planned unit development, a map amendment to allow for the planned unit development, and approval of the site plan as a conditional use.
But after planning commission members expressed concerns about the development proposal, Tapestry officials asked the commission to defer action until next month so they could submit a revised application.
On Friday the companies submitted a new application, requesting the land be rezoned from Hines Hill Corridor Overlay, Mixed Use General Sub District, to Hines Hill Corridor Overlay, Village Center Sub District.
Under the requested rezoning, residential use would be permitted, but a conditional zoning permit for the residential portion would be required.
The planning commission will revisit the request at its next meeting, Feb. 13 at 7 p.m.
The Norwood Inn, 6625 Dean Memorial Parkway, closed in October. Boston Heights Mayor Bill Goncy said the motel manager informed the village Oct. 3 that the motel would close for six months for a "reorganization."
Ted Lesiak, attorney for Tapestry, last week said "it’s a unique situation because of the disadvantaged property we’re talking about." He noted a total of $394,337 in property taxes and assessments are owed on the motel parcel.
Thomas LaSalle, chair and principal of Tapestry Companies LLC., said plans are to tear down a substantial part of the motel, removing the common area and pool and building a park area and community building. His company is also looking to potentially construct two 8,000-square-foot office buildings on the nearby property at 6555 Dean Memorial Parkway.
LaSalle said he believes the residential units would be attractive to empty nesters and families who are trying to save money to buy a home.
"We think that it will rent out quickly," said LaSalle.
John Codrea, chair of the planning commission, said he felt the proposed rezoning to a planned unit development amounted to "spot zoning," which he noted the village is trying to avoid doing.
Lesiak countered that he felt this was "a special situation because of the nature of the property. … This particular type of [planned unit development] zoning could be used to allow the village an outlet to take care of distressed properties in a quick manner because they may not be zoned properly for the proposed development. This gives you that opportunity to do that without going against the Hines Hill plan and the comprehensive plan."
However, Codrea said the village spent a "long time" creating a comprehensive plan.
"You’re asking us to set that comprehensive plan aside," said Codrea. "That then sets a precedent … for somebody else to come in and say, ‘well, I’ve got another unique piece of property, so let’s ignore the comprehensive plan and do something else because the property’s distressed."
Arthur Schmidt IV, senior planner with OHM Advisors, said the planning staff recommended against approving the plan because it is "not in line with the purpose and intent" of the Hines Hill Corridor plan, the overlay district or the village’s comprehensive plan. He added the planning staff also opposed the project because it is "not in line with the recommendations of the Hines Hill Corridor Plan."
Schmidt added his staff was willing to work with the developer on revising the project.
Thomas Bevan, whose law firm Bevan & Associates is in the building at 6555 Dean Memorial Parkway, said he felt the village needed "to have a sense of urgency" about the Norwood Inn property.
"What happens with the the [property] is of great concern to me," said Bevan. "It’s been going downhill for several years."
Bevan said he was "extremely impressed" with Tapestry’s work on a repurposing project in Wickliffe. He noted he has 50 employees working in his office. If the project was approved, Bevan said one office building would be built at the same time as the residential units. He anticipates that about 20 more employees will be able to work in that new building.
John Valco, who works at FastComp, which is a tenant in Bevan’s building, agreed with Bevan that the village had "to act quickly" on the proposal.
Reporter Phil Keren can be reached at 330-541-9421, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter at @keren_phil.