New condo development, The Overlook, approved
Rochester City Council on Monday, July 23, unanimously approved The Overlook, a 72-unit condominium development on more than nine acres of land on Letica Drive consisting of six, five-story buildings and an extended boardwalk providing views of the Clinton River Trail. The $20-million-plus project is being developed by Soave Real Estate Group's Letica LLC, and will cater to mature residents, with luxury condominiums that are expected to be offered between $500,000 and $750,000, with higher end units expected to reach $1 million, according to land manager and architect Jim Epping, who spoke to city council on behalf of the developer at the meeting. Epping said the project stemmed from 2014 plans for a 133-unit apartment development that would have consisted of three large buildings, which gained approval from the city but had been delayed. The plans were revisited and revised to come up with what he said was a better development for the community, which would bring less traffic and lower density. "Rather than bringing that back, we revised it and brought back a better project for the community," Epping said. The site is located on Letica Drive, just south of the Rochester Older Persons Commission (OPC) and north of the Clinton River Trail. The land is currently zoned as research park, which was previously established to allow for Par Pharmaceuticals to develop in the area. However, the city has sought less industrial uses in the area in hopes of less intense uses and preserving wildlife areas along the Clinton River, Paint Creek and Clinton River Trail. Because residential development isn't permitted in the current zoning, the developer applied for and on Monday, July 23, received special project authorization for the development. Epping said several changes were made since gaining approval from the city's planning commission. Changes based on concerns expressed by the planning commission include reducing the number of stories from six to five stories in each building, extending the left turn lane along Letica; as well as adding acceleration and deceleration lanes; improved architecture and landscape features; reducing the number of trees removed and increasing plantings to a minimum of 190 trees; improving pedestrian access to the Clinton River Trail; and providing about $80,000 to the city that will be dedicated to improvements to the Clinton River Trail to benefit the public, including residents of The Overlook. Council was generally supportive of the development and changes made by architects, but several had reservations about the look of the buildings and proximity to Letica Drive, based on the architectural renderings presented to council. "I don't like the aesthetics of it, but it's not my choice," councilwoman Ann Peterson said, adding that she hoped architects could improve the "warmth" of the buildings' look. However, Epping said the renderings don't do the improvements justice and provide the full nuance of the buildings, but that they would work to give the buildings a warmer, neighborhood feel. Rochester Mayor Rob Ray said he believes the revised plans are an improvement over what was initially presented to the planning commission, and far better than the original plans for apartments.