Thursday, May 27, 2010

Discussion of Booth expansion tabled for more neighbor input

The College Hill Forum on Tuesday tabled discussion on the Salvation Army's proposal to construct two new buildings adjacent to its Booth Residence on Townevista Drive, allowing more time for discussion between the project architect and residents of Oakfield Avenue.

The Salvation Army is seeking a letter of support for its two-phased project, which would add two three-story buildings of subsidized senior housing of between 38 and 48 units apiece.

The letter of support is seen as being helpful when the Salvation Army requests a zoning change to planned development district.

The eight-story Booth Residence contains 150 subsidized units. According to the Salvation Army, the building is 96-97 percent occupied, and there is a several-month waiting list of more than two dozen people.

But a plan to provide access to the buildings from Oakfield Avenue has residents concerned about an increase in traffic that they say will destroy their heavily-wooded, serene street.

Oakfield Avenue contains just 23 properties.

"One of the reasons we want to build there is that the Salvation Army owns the land," said Rob Humason of project architect ATA Beilharz Architects. "We did look at several other alternatives. Townevista was kind of problematic because of the hillside there. It's really difficult from a terrain standpoint. That and Center Hill also present some problems from a funding standpoint."

Residents were also concerned about the very compressed time period of the proposal. College Hill Forum first learned about it on May 18, and Oakfield Avenue residents didn't get a close look at the plans until packets were delivered to their homes on May 20.

The Salvation Army hosted an open house at the Booth Residence on Monday.

"One of the things that I apologize for is the quickness of this proposal," Humason said. "But we've really come a long way in a short distance."

Humason said that the proposal has been rushed because federal funding has become available through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The Salvation Army also will be seeking an undisclosed amount of City funding.

The funding would only cover the costs of the project's first phase.

"This is an opportunity for the Salvation Army to do more than what we're doing currently," said Salvation Army Major Dick Gulley. "And we make every effort to be a good neighbor."

The next meeting of the College Hill Forum is June 22 at 7 p.m. at the College Hill Recreation Center, 5545 Belmont Avenue.

Booth Residence photo courtesy of the College Hill eNewsletter.