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Zoning Board OKs Variances For Gateway Lofts

The Jamestown Zoning Board of Appeals has approved two area variances for the proposed Gateway Lofts project. P-J photo by Dennis Phillips

The developers of the Gateway Lofts project are on a roll when it comes to gaining approvals from city officials.

On Wednesday, the Jamestown Zoning Board of Appeals approved two area variances for the Gateway Lofts Project. One regarded the number of proposed parking spaces. The city’s zoning code calls for 251 parking spaces for the building, but only 148 spots are proposed.

Steven Ricca, Bond, Schoeneck & King attorney representing Southern Tier Environments For Living (STEL), said the city’s code doesn’t account for this type of project, which is meant to house homeless people and low- to moderate-income residents. He said in similar already existing STEL housing facilities, only half the residents own a car.

The second area variance calls for the setback for automotive use to be 4.4 feet from the west property line. In the city code, all manufacturing district setbacks for automotive use should be 5 feet from a property line.

Last week after more than two years of deliberation, the developers of the Gateway Lofts project received site plan approval from the city Planning Commission. The commission approved the site plan and also approved a negative declaration of the State Environmental Quality Review, or SEQR, process. This is a change from the positive declaration the commission had approved in February and in November 2018 calling for an environmental impact statement to be completed for the project.

At the center of the discussion had been the mitigation plan the developers — STEL, Community Helping Hands and Jamestown YWCA — had proposed for adding housing units at the Gateway Center.

Crystal Surdyk, city development director, told The Post-Journal the mitigation plan calls for the removal of 96 bedrooms from housing units that will be demolished. She said city officials and the developers had a lot of discussion on why it was important to focus on the number of bedrooms being mitigated and not just the number of houses being demolished. The original mitigation plan had called for the developers to fund the demolition of 21 houses. Surdyk said the developers will spend $350,000 during a three-year period on the mitigation plan.

The Gateway Lofts proposal calls for 110 units, consisting of one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments, to be created. Of the 110 apartments that will be created, 56 are reserved for homeless people while the remaining 54 will be leased to low- to moderate-income residents.

The renovation project is estimated to cost $31 million, which will be paid for by a combination of state and federal tax credits that can be sold to investors, along with community investment funds and grants.

In other business, the board approved a use variance at 943 Newland Ave. to allow for the operation of a small cafe and bakery that will be owned by Edgardo Lopez. The board also approved an area variance to allow for a parking lot to be created behind the property.

The board approved an area variance for Victor and Tory Nary to construct a 6-foot fence in their front yard at 2 Spruce Street. The city zoning code calls for the maximum fence height of 3.5 feet.

The board approved an area variance for John and Rene Hearn to construct a new garage with a setback of only 5 feet. The city zoning code calls for a setback of 25 feet.

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