UPDATE, May 7, 2013: As a commenter pointed out, the letter below is actually a form letter created by the Eastman House and sent to City by Craft Company No. 6 owners Lynn Allinger and Gary Stam. City regrets the oversight.
For City Publisher Mary Anna Towler's opinion on the project, go here.
We respectfully write in opposition to the proposed construction of an apartment building at 933 University Avenue, on the current site of the Monroe Voiture (40 & 8) veterans' club.
I oppose this development for the following specific reasons:
- 1) A four-story apartment building is fundamentally inconsistent with the property's location in the East Avenue Preservation District, the first preservation district in Rochester, which is generally considered to be one of the best preserved urban neighborhoods in the United States.
- 2) Since 1975, within the East Avenue Preservation District, the Rochester Preservation Board has permitted the construction of an aggregate of fewer than 100 residential units, none of which were in a building taller than two stories. The proposed apartment building, with more than 100 apartments, would more than double this number.
- 3) The proposed project would have a dramatically adverse impact on the surroundings and viewshed of George Eastman's house and estate--one of only two National Historic Landmarks in Rochester (the other being the Susan B. Anthony House)--which are themselves subject to strict historic preservation guidelines.
- 4) The building's proximity to Eastman House's carefully restored, conserved and interpreted landscape is inappropriate and would negatively impact the experience of its visitors, including city residents, who are welcome to use its grounds at their leisure.
- 5) The proposed apartment building would be the largest residential building in the area and would not be in keeping with the community fostered by the Neighborhood of the Arts or with ArtWalk's carefully nurtured streetscape.
- 6) The proposed apartment building is too large for the lot and would leave very little open space on the property.
- 7) The development plan submitted to the Preservation Board would require the removal of many large trees, including some trees that are more than 100 years in age and are rare in an urban setting.
- 8) The ratio of apartments to parking lot spaces designated for the building is inadequate and would create an on-street parking problem that would make parking very difficult for neighborhood residents and visitors.
- 9) The additional traffic generated by the apartments' residents would exacerbate existing traffic congestion at peak hours on University Avenue, which has only two lanes. This will aggravate the additional traffic from the new Wegman's on University Avenue.
- 10) People exiting on University Avenue from George Eastman House or the Greek Orthodox Church already face heavy traffic, and there have been several accidents. Placing a large apartment building between these public institutions will make exiting from any of the three locations difficult.
- 11) Both the Greek Orthodox Church and George Eastman House have driveways that extend from University Avenue to East Avenue. Residents of the new apartment building would likely to use these driveways as shortcuts.
- 12) This property is located two doors down from a fire station and the increased traffic congestion could present a danger for the community.
- 13) The proposal is not in compliance with zoning requirements because no loading area is provided. The moving vans that would frequently be parked in the street directly adjacent to exits from George Eastman House and the Greek Orthodox Church would be unsafe and inappropriate for the East Preservation District.
As outlined above, the proposed project would be highly detrimental to George Eastman House, one of Rochester's most important cultural institutions and a major tourist attraction. New apartment buildings could be successfully developed on a wide range of different locations within the city. There is no reason to permit this project within the East Avenue Preservation District, immediately next to a National Historic Landmark.
Furthermore, the proposed apartment building would not comply with the zoning for 933 University Avenue. In 2011, the Eastman House, Hutchison House and Monroe Voiture properties were rezoned as Planned Development District 14--George Eastman House, in anticipation of the future expansion of the museum. The purpose and intent of the new zoning was to "recognize and permit a defined area for the delivery of programs and community services offered by George Eastman House and the Monroe Voiture 111." The proposed apartment building clearly does not further the specified purpose or intent.
For the above reasons, I am adding my voice to those of many other interested citizens who insist the application for development be denied.