VARNA, N.Y.—A Rochester-based real estate developer is hoping the fourth time’s the charm for a proposed multifamily housing development in the hamlet of Varna.
Park Grove Realty has submitted revised plans for a townhouse project planned for 6.54 acres at 1061 Dryden Road, east of the F. H. Fox Bridge. The latest submission is the fourth major version presented during the lengthy gestation period for the long-proposed apartment proposal for the site.
The 1061 Dryden Road project, originally called “The Evergreen Townhouses,” was first proposed back in February 2017. The 36-unit, 108-bedroom townhouse plan designed by HOLT Architects was originally approved later that spring as a Planned Unit Development (PUD), with revisions in April 2018 to reduce the size of some of the units, keeping the unit count at 36 but reducing the total bedroom count to 90.
The project then entered a period of uncertainty as local businessman Gary Sloan sought to divest and bring in development partners for the project.
The offering sat on the real estate market for years, with significant price reductions as time went on. Eventually, in 2022, it caught the interest of Park Grove Realty. The firm was looking to expand its footprint in Tompkins County, having recently developed the East Pointe Apartments in the village of Lansing and playing the role of co-developer in Ithaca’s Cayuga Park project, now known as Carpenter Park.
With Park Grove’s input, the proposal was revised again in the spring of 2022, to 42 apartments with a total of 84 bedrooms. At the time, rising construction materials costs, and with the knowledge that two-bedroom units are generally easier to rent out than three-bedroom units, and the amended plan was approved in May of last year.
The latest submission contains some substantial design changes. The HOLT Architects design has been completely eliminated at this point, replaced with a layout by James Fahy Design that is basically the East Pointe Apartments blueprint with some detail changes. In fact, the provided elevations are copies of Park Grove’s Genesee Pointe Apartments in suburban Rochester. The revised application explains the changes are being made to alleviate the financial burden that existed in the applications approved in 2017 and 2022.
“Under this design, the Project team obtained construction pricing and determined the site and buildings were infeasible [to be] built given the current construction climate. As a result, Park Grove Realty determined that it did not make sense to proceed with the project as proposed in the previously amended PUD,” wrote Marathon Engineering’s Adam Fishel in the revised application.
The revised proposal would have 43 market-rate rental units in total, with four 10-unit apartment strings, and a three-unit, single-story string of patio units at the end. The cul-de-sac with decorative centerpiece in the previous site plan has been replaced with a more conventional “hammer-head” road terminus.
According to Fishel’s letter, the new project would reduce the number of bedrooms to 82, while increasing the number of on-site parking spaces from 95 to 108. The letter claims that there would now be sprinklers in the units, as well as more green space in the revised proposal, and more areas to store plowed snow.
The plowed snow component may be a nod to the fact that while most towns still want adequate amounts of parking for projects, the project team is hoping to ward off concerns that 108 parking spaces is an excessive amount for 43 apartments.
The Town of Dryden Planning Board, which served an advisory role for PUD amendments, is supportive of the changes, though members did express reservations with the proximity of the eastern townhouse strings to the property line.
Meanwhile, the Dryden Town Board will host a Public Hearing on the proposed PUD amendment in October, with an approval or rejection vote likely at some point later in the fall. Park Grove is hopeful that they will be able to start construction in the fall, likely with the intent to deliver in time for Cornell-centric renters in Fall 2024.