All Over But the Financin’

The long-awaited Ridge Flats project gets approval from the Zoning Board of Adjustments, clearing the way for construction. 

Rivage renderings.Kelly Drive.w Text

Today’s approval of the Ridge Flats (aka Rivage) project by the Zoning Board of Adjustments (ZBA) means the project has cleared its final zoning hurdle with the city.

You may remember that the Civic Design Review Committee approved the project in May with a few suggestions that were passed along to the ZBA, including incorporating more public spaces along with the ground-floor retail on Ridge Avenue, adding more color variation to the paneling, and breaking up the monotonous wall on the Ridge Avenue side. Committee chair Nancy Rogo Trainer felt the wall made the building “seem a little relentless.”

The Grasso team will be addressing those concerns, particularly the Ridge Avenue facade. It’ll be one of several changes the Grasso team will be addressing in the coming months as they look to break ground.

The team, led by attorney Ronald Patterson, presented a quick recap of changes to the project since 2014. Though some of the changes increased the cost of the project significantly and called for substantial redesign, developer David Grasso felt they made the project better in the end.

EastFallsLocal 5-13 rivage site ridge

Speaking in support of the project was Gina Snyder of the East Falls Development Corporation, who summed up the many rounds of community planning and input that went into creating the development requirements for the Rivage site. More about that here.

She said the community was lucky to get a developer as flexible and understanding as Grasso who responded to “all the constraints the community placed upon him” in developing the site.

She also passed along a message from Bill Epstein, EFCC Chair, regarding the approval of the project by the EFCC membership. As Secretary of East Falls Forward, I also submitted the results of our membership vote in support of the plan.

EastFallsLocal Brendan speaks at playground meeting last june

The lone speaker in opposition, EFCC member Brendan Siltman, registered his objection to the project’s density, citing a petition he brought with him signed by “about 100 nearby neighbors.”

Chairman Moylan offered to have the signatures entered into the record but felt that it was “hard to know the value of the petition” since he wasn’t familiar with what questions were asked and what methodology was employed during the signature gathering. Patterson echoed those concerns during cross-examination.

With no further speakers, the Board approved the project unanimously with no stipulations or provisos.

Afterward, Grasso said he was relieved by the outcome and eager to get on with the securing financing and tweaking the design.

He was hopeful that both issues could be addressed in the next few months and anticipated that construction of the building would take about 18 months from groundbreaking to completion.

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