“Where can I get pancakes from in the meantime?”
That was the lighthearted question Brad Whistler, chair of the Bloomington Plan Committee, asked Bob Costello, owner of Village Deli, at the committee’s regular meeting on Monday.
“In the meantime” Wisler is the period between the upcoming demolition of the one-story Village Deli building on Kirkwood Street and the reopening of the breakfast joint on the ground floor of a new four-story housing development in the same location.
Whistler and the other planning commissioners had just heard a presentation on the proposal, which would build 25 apartments with a total of 29 bedrooms – 11 studios, 11 one-bedrooms, two bedrooms, and one 3-bedroom apartment.
The ground floor will include a parking garage for 12 kiosks for residential tenants, who will access it from a back alley. The ground floor will also contain 2,700 square feet of restaurant space, which will be the new home of Village Deli.
Based on the project preview presented at the committee’s lunch session in mid-June, the likely timeline for completion of the project is August 2023.
All other things being equal, Village Deli pancake has been empty for a year.
But Costello gave Wisler some welcome news: “Our current plan is to move the Village Deli elsewhere. So we can keep serving delicious pies, Brad, and keep hiring our staff, who make our business work every day!”
The project was not controversial for the plan’s commissioners, who approved it unanimously.
The height of new construction in the zoning area – a mixed-use downtown with a downtown character overlay in University Village (MD-UV) – is usually limited to three stories. But Bloomington’s Uniform Development Act (UDO) provides incentives that, if satisfied, can reward the developer with an extra story.
That’s what Costello and the team from Strauser Design Build did, choosing to add a package of sustainable design features, which meet UDO incentive requirements. Another possible way, to get an extra story for a building’s height, is to add some income-restricted units to the mix.
Sustainable features in the Village Deli design include: covered parking, cool roof and solar power.
The fact that the parking garage will be accessed from the back alley aroused some interest from the commissioners. In a mid-June preview, city engineer Andrew Sebor, who serves on the planning committee under state law, said he supported the idea of parking in alleys.
An alternative has been to add a curb cut to Kirkwood, which is not favorable, according to Director of Development Services Jackie Scanlan. Scanlan said at a meeting Monday that access to driveway parking is better than adding a curb cut. She added, “Especially with a focus on: What will Kirkwood be?”
If Kirkwood Street is eventually permanently closed to vehicular traffic, as some have called, cutting the sidewalk will not be an access to parking spaces.
The number of spaces proposed for the project, in 12 booths, is less than the minimum required under UDO. Under UDO, the minimum parking requirement is: 0.5 places per studio; one space per one bedroom; 1.5 space per 2 bedrooms; And two spaces for each 3 bedroom apartment. The math on it is up to 21.5 distance.
How can a project be approved with 9.5 less space than required? The UDO has a requirement for minimum parking requirements to be waived, if a parking study is conducted showing that no minimum number of places is required. The city’s Department of Planning and Transportation can authorize a reduction in the number required, if it determines that the parking study supports fewer spaces.
The Village Deli parking study was conducted by Desman Design Management.
The argument for reducing the number of parking spaces required for the Village Deli project included the example of the DunnPark apartments at 115 N. Dunn Street, which were constructed in 2017 in the same building as the Village Deli. The 16 studio apartments and a small restaurant space (Bloomington Bagel Co.) that make up DunnPark Apartments have received a waiver from the plan’s commission for no on-site parking.