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Home » Focus on Neighborhoods » Intown

JULY 28, 2005
NPU-M happy with Excelsior Mill plans but defer vote

BY MICHELLE MENDIETA MITCHELL



Sierra Contracting President Larry Wolfe holds a rendering of a proposal for 140 condos to be built adjacent to the DuPre Excelsior Mill at North Avenue and N. Angier Avenue during Monday night’s Neighborhood Planning Unit M meeting.
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     Representatives of re-zoning applicant Sierra Contracting again came before Neighborhood Planning Unit (NPU) M on Monday with new site plans for 695 North Ave. N.E., the site of the DuPre Excelsior Mill. In return, NPU members expressed their appreciation of the new plans but deferred a final vote on the matter to the land use committee.

     Despite many attendees applauding the contractor for their work with the neighborhoods and NPUs involved, the vote was ultimately deferred because, as NPU-M Chair Derek Matory explained, the land use committee did not have the conditions in writing. Because the applicant was scheduled to go before the Zoning Review Board on Aug. 3 and the land use committee will not formally meet again until Aug. 8, a motion to empower the committee to make a recommendation on the application via e-mail or at a special meeting passed unanimously. The committee will report back to the NPU next month.

     The applicant was seeking to rezone the property, currently the site of The Masquerade nightclub, from I-1 (light industrial) to MRC-3(c) (mixed residential-commercial). Hakim Hilliard with McKenna, Long & Aldridge law firm told the group the new site plan “contemplates saving the entire structure.” “One of the things that we were told that if we could come up with a plan that saved that structure, you all would support whatever kind of density we needed on the back end. Fortunately, (architect) Fred (Pucciano) was able to come up with a design that allowed them to still stay within the MRC guidelines and save the structure,” said Hilliard.

     The new proposal has 140 condo units, as opposed to the originally proposed 186 units, for a total of 10 stories with three levels of parking that are concealed from the street, Pucciano said. Two-story loft units will line N. Angier Avenue. The units above the lofts step back from the two-story line, anywhere from 5 to 20 feet. “So that when you’re walking on North Angier as a pedestrian, you’re very aware of the 2-story mass and less aware of the units above,” he argued.

     Above the second story line is the “balance of the units,” he continued, adding that they will have an undulating façade. Many of the units will have large exterior balcony spaces and the back of the development will mirror what is being proposed on N. Angier.

     Additionally, Hilliard reported that restaurateur Bob Amick is interested in purchasing the mill facility for use as a restaurant, bar and microbrewery. An effort to designate the mill as a landmark building is currently in litigation, added Hilliard.

     In other news, police Zone 5 Lt. Judy Smith reported that the zone was down 7 percent overall year-to-date in part 1 crimes, a total of 350 total less crimes. Part 1 crimes are the top category for murder, rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, larcenies and auto theft, she explained. She also said the zone’s crime was down in all categories except for burglary. “We were slightly up in burglary but we’re bringing that down.”

     Zone 5 police are also doing a lot of drug enforcement and will be getting some federal assistance on Boulevard, an area that has always been an issue, Smith said.



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