For more than an hour Monday night Oct. 20, the Liverpool Village Planning Board discussed various options for JGB Properties to move ahead with new plans for 401 to 403 First St. The local developer wants to convert the historic building at the corner of First and Tulip streets into two first-floor retail businesses and nine second and third-floor apartments. Until recently the building housed the Olde Liverpool Shoppes.
Earlier this year, JGB proposed converting the brick structure into five condominiums and two retail spaces which will be leased, but it recently submitted a new site-plan application to the village.
"Market conditions and cost of construction didn't permit for five condos," JGB Properties representative Christine Stevens told The Review. "Also, the condos would've had garages."
Now the developer's plans call for the tenants of eight apartments and one efficiency apartment to park their vehicles in one of 11 on-site spaces. After hearing from JGB's professional site-engineer, Rod Ives Jr. of Napierala Consulting, and from Laura Cassiglia, a senior project engineer from village consultant Clough Harbour & Associates, planning board members urged JGB to seek shared-parking agreements with nearby businesses and/or apply for variances to the village code which requires 26 parking spaces for the new site plan.
Stevens submitted a letter written by John Gormel, owner of the Cobblestone Inn across the street from the JGB property. Gormel heartily supported the JGB project and offered use of three Cobblestone private-parking spaces during daytime hours for future retail owners and employees.
Another local businessman, Mike Hennigan of Nichols Supermarket, was at Monday's meeting and, while he supports growth in the business district, he said, "it's got to be intelligent. Right now there's no place to park in the 300 and 400 blocks of First Street all due to Lavallee's Karate."
The popular martial-arts studio moved into 318 First St. earlier this year after receiving parking variances based primarily on shared-parking agreements with nearby institutions such as Key Bank and the Kane Building.
"If we keep using shared parking," Hennigan warned, "it'll be like midtown Manhattan here. You can't put 10 pounds of potatoes in a five-pound bag."
Planning board member Tom Tartaglia agreed. "There is a breaking point," he said.
Village Codes-Enforcement Officer Bill Reagan advised JGB to also apply for a variance for a loading zone for the building's two anticipated businesses.
Stevens said JGB would do so, but she stressed the project's overall benefit to the community.
"The village needs quality apartments," Stevens said. "There's a real demand for rentals near Onondaga Lake Park."