Mercy project’s site plans to go before Planning Board

The city’s Planning Board will take a first look today at COR Development Co.’s $30 million redevelopment of the old Mercy Hospital site.

Planners won’t take any action on the site plans that night because the Zoning Board of Appeals must first grant a variance on a 20-foot front yard setback for both the three residential and two commercial buildings will be closer to the sidewalks.

The project will require obtaining a series of setback variances for five of the proposed six buildings, resubdivision of two St. Patrick’s parcels and the two COR owned parcels, according to a May 23 memo from Bergman Associates, the Rochester engineering firm working on the project’s design. The developer wants the parking layout to be closer to the sidewalk to maximize parking on the site, said Michael A. Lumbis, the city planning and community development director

“They want to give it an urban-type feel that is same with the other downtown buildings,” Mr. Lumbis said.

The Fayetteville developer is proposing 108 apartment units in three three-story buildings each containing 36 units along Stone and South Massey streets and about 30,000 square feet of commercial space in two two-story buildings along Arsenal Street.

Construction won’t start until mid-August at the earliest, Mr. Lumbis said.

“It depends on the zoning board and whether any issues come up,” Mr. Lumbis said. “We’re working to expedite it as much as possible.”

The variance application is slated to go before the zoning board on June 15 and could be approved at the July meeting. After getting through the variance process, the planning board most likely won’t consider the site plans until its Aug. 2 meeting and then send it off to the City Council two weeks later.

To be built in phases, the $80 million investment will be called Mercy Heights, with additional phases planned for another 70 apartments along Stone Street where COR has also acquired other property.

Plans call for the buildings to front on Arsenal, Stone and South Massey streets and all of the parking will be in the interior of the site, mostly screened from street view. A community center will be built fronting on Sherman Street, with the center made available for use by St. Patrick’s Church functions.

COR and St. Patrick’s are also swapping some property to allow COR to construct one of the commercial buildings in part of its nearly two-acre existing parking lot. The church then can use some of the commercial buildings’ parking for parishioners on the weekends, Mr. Lumbis said.

The residential portion of the project will follow a model COR used in developing Beaver Meadows, a 296-unit apartment complex behind Target in the town of Watertown, in that 80 percent of the units will be rented at market prices, with the remaining 20 percent consisting of affordable housing.

Beaver Meadows is adjacent to Town Centre at Watertown, an earlier COR project whose businesses include Kohl’s, Target, Old Navy and Petco.

By Craig Fox, Watertown Daily Times