Floundering condo project hopes to find new life
Ownership rights, home sizes changed to meet market
With two failed starts in its past and now on its third owner, the yet-to-be-built Erbary Place Condominiums development on Gatepost Road likely is shifting its focus.
"What we're trying to do is give it more of a single-family subdivision feel," said Wolf Korndorfer, managing member of Riversview Development, which has an option on the properties.
Gone would be previous plans for all Victorian or all European-style homes. Gone would be most of the plans for shared common spaces. Instead, Riversview is petitioning the Common Council to allow the seven-lot Erbary Place to offer future homeowners the ability to control the property surrounding their homes, choose the architectural style they prefer and have the ability to have an in-ground swim pool.
The proposal won Plan Commission backing Monday.
"The proposal remains true to the basic attributes of the residential cluster design originally approved," Mike Theis told the commissioners.
A history of changes
Riversview Development requested the changes to make the properties more marketable, Korndorfer said.
The project was originally approved in 2006 when Miller Homes planned to develop the properties as all Victorian condominium homes. In 2008, Davidson Development Corp. took over and the plan was revised to specify that all European-style homes would be constructed, by individual builders rather than the developer.
Under that plan, home sizes were to be between 2,500 square feet and 4,900 square feet, and homeowners had to commit to putting in at least $20,000 worth of landscaping.
Davidson Development completed the infrastructure improvements for the project, but no homes were ever built.
The property now is under the ownership of WaterStone Bank, which contracted Riversview to develop the project.
Korndorfer's proposed modifications, in addition to those mentioned above, would drop the home sizes to between 2,100 square feet and 2,800 square feet and remove a minimum dollar amount for landscaping.
Settling the details
In addition, he proposed to the Plan Commission that 30 percent of the front facade on most of the homes be made of masonry, likely brick or stone.
"Originally this was a pretty upscale development, and it still sounds upscale, but it's come down a bit," commissioner Paul Wartman said, adding that he was worried that 30 percent wasn't enough. Additionally, the city typically requires decorative treatment be the same on all sides of a building.
Wartman pointed to two lots that would be visible from Davidson Road, although their front facades would be along Gatepost Road.
"I don't look at this as the same type of standard as the homes right across the street," he said. "I just don't feel real comfortable in the control of the architecture. Certainly what you've delivered tonight, it's attractive. But I don't want it to be not as attractive on the back side that is butting up to another neighborhood, when that neighborhood has higher standards."
Korndorfer agreed to up the masonry requirement to 40 percent of the front facade on all lots but the two visible from Davidson. On those two homes, he agreed to require 30 percent masonry on all four sides.
As to landscaping, Korndorfer has prepared specifications about the type of landscaping allowable and set an expectation that it not be contained to just the front yard. This, he said, is better than setting a dollar amount without controlling what those dollars are spent on.
Further, the project's lack of an architectural theme, like Victorian or European, still has some controls.
He presented renderings of what he expects of homes built there, and each home to be built will be reviewed by city staff. If it varies significantly from what was presented Monday, the Plan Commission would review the plan for the individual home before it could proceed.
WHAT: Common Council review of proposed changes to the plans for Erbary Place Condominiums
WHEN: likely at 7:45 p.m. Oct. 16
WHERE: City Hall, 2000 N. Calhoun Road
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