One of Ridgewood's most notable downtown eyesores could be receiving a major facelift, but not before clearing significant hurdles in parking and zoning process.
The – best known as the site of the – appeared before the planning board on Tuesday night looking for input and direction on its revised conceptual plan, which calls for a two-story mixed development.
After demolishing the Town Garage building that currently stands, the applicant envisions a two-story, 5,000 square-foot building set closer to Franklin Avenue with four apartments (including one affordable unit) above a retail space.
But there are challenges abound.
Before any hope of construction on a mixed-use project, the council must either rescind or amend the "redevelopment area" zoning designation codified in 2006.
Even if that is dealt with quickly, substantial discussions will need to be had over the parking configuration.
At the behest of the planning board from its April 2011 meeting, the planner scrapped the idea to have a driveway jutting out from Franklin Avenue to a building set further back on the thoroughfare. Parking, under that plan, would have been underground.
Now, according to planner Calisto Bertin, the applicant would use the adjacent municipal lot, ultimately removing a total of 4 metered spaces from the public. Access would be from the lot, not Franklin Avenue.
There were reservations from the planning board and town officials about ceding more parking in a downtown already lacking available spaces.
"We know there's a shortage," said Village Planner Blais Brancheau, calling it a "CBD-wide" issue. "Every time we allow a development that has inadequate parking, we overload the system."
Brancheau, tossing out an idea, suggested the village could make a land swap, moving the building to the corner of Franklin and Walnut and reconfiguring the parking altogether.
The idea held appeal to planning board vice chair – and councilman-elect – Albert Pucciarelli. It would strengthen the streetscape of Franklin Avenue, long a priority for the planning board, he said.
Aside from a wide array of zoning logistics that must be cleared, there's also remediation work that will need to be completed before any construction begins, and planners will have to justify the excessive building density ratio.
The planning board will be sending a letter to the village council asking them to make a decision on whether to change the zoning status to get the ball rolling on a plan.
For Pucciarelli, it can't come soon enough. "I'm sick of looking at that building," he said.