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Tensions over the exterior appearance of the new apartment building at 52 Depew St. in Pleasantville simmered last week as the project’s developer and the Planning Commission squared off in a testy exchange.
Objections were once again raised regarding structural appearance issues of the project, called The Atwood, between David Mann, president and founder of Lighthouse Living, and Russell Klein, chair of the commission and Architectural Review Board. The key concerns have been repeatedly brought up for about a year, including construction that strayed from the originally approved plans. Community members have criticized its appearance as industrial and failing to conform to the neighborhood’s character.
Under particular scrutiny is the appearance of the side of the building facing the Saw Mill River Parkway.
“The Saw Mill side is the most viewed side by most people,” Klein told Mann. “When you stop at the (traffic) light the façade is highly visible. What we’ve been struggling with all of these months is that it seems treated as the back alley of the building.”
Mann showed visuals of trees recently planted on Depew Street and on the side facing the parkway. He said he will plant crawling ivy on the concrete wall facing the Saw Mill in the next month or so.
Klein acknowledged that the tree plantings helped.
“You’ve done a lot of changes,” he said, “and even though we didn’t approve any of them, you proceeded with all of them.”
Most of the verbal sparring centered on installing screening to cover the parking garage, especially the highly visible car-lift machinery.
“If you are suggesting some type of screening in front of the structure up to the underside of the top header, that’s a tall structure, over 10 feet, and that would look weird,” Mann countered. “That was never on the original plan.”
“But this is a different building,” Klein responded, referring to the deviation from the project’s original architectural plans.
Mann objected to the comment, retorting that the screening would not be financially feasible and would interfere with the storm water drainage system. It would also potentially present other problems such as mold, he said.
A Zoom chat box comment from village resident Tim Mattison was highly critical of the building.
“They can’t do it right because they already did it wrong and now it is too expensive,” Mattison stated. “Is that really what they’re saying? Why didn’t they just build what they originally showed and avoid all of this? This is the ugliest building in the entire town. It’s a self-storage facility that people live in. I’m so sick of these pathetic excuses. Not financially feasible? Close the building down.”
Despite the exchange between Mann and Klein, the commission’s comments weren’t entirely negative. Commission members told Mann they liked the attractive stone work on one side of the structure, but that was in stark contrast to the raw concrete on the building’s lower façade.
“That makes it appear as a very neglected façade of the building,” Klein said.
He urged Mann to bring his architect and the other professionals who have worked on the project to the next meeting.
“I don’t think we’ve gotten anywhere tonight,” Klein said. “When you’ve had your team here it was more effective.”
Just over 50 percent of the three-story residential apartment building with 71 units is now occupied, according to village Building Inspector Robert Hughes. A Temporary Certificate of Occupancy (TCO) had been issued last month in lieu of the full Certificate of Occupancy. The temporary certificate legally allowed tenants to move into the building.
A more positive note at the end of the discussion was offered by Klein.
“You are closer than you think,” he told Mann. “It’s the little things that will improve the quality and look of your building. The inside is beautiful. I took a tour with Robert (Hughes) and the mayor and compared with the outside, it’s very nice.”
Correction: In the original posting of this article, it was incorrectly reported that about 75 percent of 52 Depew St. is occupied. In fact, the occupancy is just over 50 percent. The Examiner regrets the error.
Abby is a local journalist who has reported on breaking news for more than 20 years. She currently covers community issues in The Examiner as a full-time reporter and has written for the paper since its inception in 2007. Read more from Abby’s editor-author bio here. Read Abbys’s archived work here: https://www.theexaminernews.com/author/ab-lub2019/