Key West the Newspaper editorial cartoon by co-publisher Arnaud Girard – www.thebluepaper.com
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Dreamed before dawn today of Key West amigo Todd German
having a garden of vegetables and ornamental shrubs, and all of the vegetables had died except for one oregano plant, which is an herb. Oregano oil is a home remedy for MRSA abscesses, which are pandemic in the Florida Keys, in large part due to ocean pollution.
As the dream ended, Todd was arranging some of the smaller front shrubbery so they would be exposed to the morning sun.
I fidgeted over the dream while trying to get back to sleep, unsuccessfully. So, I got up, went online, and looked at today’s Citizen, on whose Editorial Board Todd sits. On the front page was an article on the new Peary Court development, containing lots of quotes from Todd’s good friend Jim Hendrick and Jim’s wife Donna Bosold. My thoughts in italics. I added a few pics.
Peary Court today, before it is razed for the new development
city street grid around Peary Court today, Angela Street is the unnamed small street next to Peary Court, running parallel to Newton Street, unnamed Fleming Street runs parallel between Eaton and Southard Streets into White Street
the developer’s newest Peary Court layout
To see the architectural design pics in the citizen, open this link – www.keysnews.com, and then download today’s edition. If you are not a Citizen subscriber, you will have to use plastic money to open today’s edition.
Sunday, May 4, 2014 Add to Facebook Add to Twitter
‘New’ Peary Court plan on the table
Developers seek HARC approval a third time
BY GWEN FILOSA Citizen Staff
The development team working on turning Peary Court into a 208-unit complex promised to blend into the historic fabric of Old Town have heard plenty of complaints from residents:
It’s not pretty enough.
Parking will be a nightmare.
Our property values will drop.
Other complaints have been greatly increased automotive traffic on their streets, invasion of their privacy and destruction of their quality of life. All to satisfy GREED, the sole driver of this new development.
Even a picture of the finished project, an image of people enjoying the planned swimming pool, stirred up anger, according to Jim Hendrick, whose Critical Concerns firm is working with the developers.
I wonder if Hendrick told Gwen Filosa that the Angela Street residents told Hendrick at a nearby Moose Lodge meeting that they were stirred up by the thought of noise from a public swimming pool and a park inside the new Peary Court, and that pool and park taking up space which would force new Peary Court construction closer to Angela Street?
I wonder if Hendrick told Filosa that he told the Angela Street residents at the Moose Lodge that he and Donna will live in the new Peary Court development? Jim told me years ago that he took as his fee a unit in his good friend and client Pritam Singh’s developments.
guard gate into Truman Annex, developed by Singh
But the homeowners of the Meadows and the rest of Old Town aren’t the ones Hendrick has to win votes from this week. He’s got to impress a volunteer-appointed panel of seven locals.
Actually, the volunteer committee of seven locals are simply advisory, as is the City Planning Department. Hendrick has to convince the City Commission, who consist of the mayor and the six city commissioners, who are not bound by what HARC and/or the Planning Department recommend.
On Wednesday, Hendrick and planner Donna Bosold will make a third attempt in more than a year to win approval from the Historic Architectural Review Commission, whose members postponed the item in March rather than take a vote. For Peary Court owners, it’s a second try at this particular design.
In February 2013, Bosold withdrew the original proposal, which HARC members so disliked it was obvious they were ready to kill it with a vote. Developers chose to prevent that by yanking it from the dais.
They hired a new architect, Bernard Zyscovich of Miami, and didn’t come back until they had an entirely new proposal.
At the last HARC meeting, Hendrick said he had hired Zyscovich, who was his good friend. The longer Zyscovich talked, the more he reminded me of just another snake oil salesman. His oily pinnacle came when he told HARC the Palm Avenue entrance into Peary Court should be closed to through traffic, because it had only served a savings & loan. Whereupon, City Planner Don Craig said, in fact, the Palm Avenue entrance was even then serving over half of the units in the existing Peary Court development. When Hendrick said there had been a traffic study done showing the Palm Avenue exit needed to be closed to through traffic, Craig said he knew of no such study and the city would do its own traffic study. Hendrick had told Angela Street residents and former Monroe County Mayor Shirley Freeman at the Moose Lodge that it was city staff who wanted the Palm Avenue exist closed because of a traffic study. The same Moose Lodge Hendrick’s good friend Zyskovich slammed during the HARC meeting, because it didn’t meet his refined tastes. Zyskovich also slammed the boat yard across the street from the Moose Lodge. All after he had crowed how much time he had spent in Key West studying its history and architecture and how to blend the new Peary Court into Old Town.
Apparently, Zyskovich did not spend any time in existing Peary Court, for if he had, he would have known the Palm Avenue entrance serves over half the units in there. Another possibility, which is my choice, Zyskovich lied about what the Palm Avenue entrance served in Peary Court. Brazen, given HARC Chairman Michael Miller had told Zyskovich before that HARC meeting began, that he lives in the current Peary Court. Brazen, given anyone who ever went into Peary Court and walked around it knew the Palm Avenue entrance served over half the units.
City commissioners have the final say on the project, but HARC has to approve the plans first. The designs must show the final product will be “similar” to the homes and buildings already in the neighborhood, according to the city’s guidelines.
“Similar” – The renderings of the different style units Zyskovich proudly displayed to HARC at its second meeting looked cookie-cut, mass-produced, nothing like conch architecture. During citizen comments, I told Michael Miller, if he wanted to see conch architecture, he could start walking Angela Street at the Moose Lodge, and walk Angela Street to where it ends in Bahama Village.
Angela Street architecture
I told Miller, if the new Peary Court development architecture blended with that kind of conch architecture, then I would have no objection to the architecture. And, even if it did not blend with conch architecture, I would have no objection if it was totally solar, which would drag Key West into the 21st Century. I said I knew that wasn’t going to happen, though. HARC ain’t into totally solar. Nor is Key West.
Later in that meeting, Hendrick said his client would make it totally solar, if HARC would go along with it. No reply from HARC to that. Instead, HARC told Zyscovitch to blend the new Peary Court into Angela Street, by extending the crossing streets now dead-ending at Agnela Street into Peary Court. I heard the other day that Miller wanted to approve the first set of plans for the new Peary Court, but was outvoted by the other HARC commissioners. He was only a HARC commissioner then; now he’s HARC’s Chairman. I heard he has had that bur under his saddle ever since, and now he’s getting his revenge on the Angela Street residents, who, in his view, are only looking out for themselves and not for the greater good of Key West.
And while Hendrick and his colleagues have noted that the surrounding homeowners might never sign off on the new Peary Court, which for decades has been essentially a gated enclave of military housing, recently leased out to civilians, they believe they’re close to HARC approval.
For a fact, the Angela Street residents will never sign off on Peary Court having road access to Angela Street. In fact, Hendrick and the new Peary Court developer did not want that road access, either. They wanted the old iron fence separating the current Peary Court and Angela Street to remain. It was Michael Miller and Don Craig who led the charge at the last HARC meeting to open the new Peary Court into Angela Street.
“The idea is to make it as much as possible the completion of the plan for Old Town,” said Hendrick. “It will look more like Key West, actually a part of Old Town.”
Baloney. It will look nothing like Old Town. It will look like it was mass-produced and will more resemble a Pritam Singh development.
At present, Peary Court is 160 units in buildings built around 1995. Demolition is no problem since the buildings lack historic merit, city staff has said.
White Street Partners, which includes Everett Atwell, has permission to replace the 160 units and add 48 units of affordable housing.
Affordable for whom? A waitress? A grocery store clerk? A charter boat mate? A hotel housekeeper? Seeing is believing.
Remaking the 24-acre Peary Court from a separate enclave into an Old Town-typical neighborhood of cross streets is key, Hendrick said.
That’s not what Hendrick told the Angela Street residents and Shirley Freeman at the Moose Lodge. It is what HARC and Don Craig and Michael Miller said at the ensuing/second HARC meeting.
“HARC made it clear what they wanted was for traffic to be able to enter Peary Court from Angela Street and exit on Angela Street,” Hendrick said. “They wanted us to extend some streets from the Meadows into Peary Court.”
Details remain unclear
At the end of business hours Friday, it was unclear whether the city’s historic preservation planner, Enid Torregrosa, was ready to recommend approval of the revised plans.
Torregrosa in March emails to Bosold expressed frustration in not having yet received the graphics and renderings she had asked for. In her most recent report attached to the HARC agenda, she questioned the heights of the proposed buildings on Angela Street.
Peary Court designers revised the Angela Street portion of the project, suggesting back yards only would face the existing 14 buildings. Of those 14, six homes have no space for off-street parking.
“The cottages proposed on Angela Street are still too high in comparison with the majority of the historic buildings within the street,” Torregrosa wrote in a report that does not include any recommendation for a HARC vote.
about twice as high as the Angela Street homes
The Angela Street portion of Peary Court allows for “cottages,” or mother-in-law units, as an option behind a buyer’s chosen home model — 10 at the most. One local homeowner called them “huts.”
Actually, Angela Street residents call these towering detached units “transient rentals”; the people, who buy a main house and detached transient unit will rent the transient out at market (sky high) rates to pay for the main house.
Torregrosa wrote, “Having back yards on eight sites facing a street is an atypical streetscape design that is foreign to the traditional historic district streetscape.”
What would you expect from a GREED-driven foreign invader represented locally by consultants whose critical concern is how much money they can make for themselves and their client?
While the home designs show elements inspired by Key West historic architecture, Torregrosa said, staff isn’t satisfied with the fact that it remains up in the air which home models — small, medium or large, up to 2,200 square feet — will wind up on Angela.
Doesn’t look inspired by Key West historic architecture to me; looks inspired by Jim Hendrick and Pritam Singh architecture.
“The design should be more specific regarding the final product that will be located on each lot in order for this commission to base a streetscape approval on something real, and not on a ‘worst-case scenario,'” wrote Torregrosa. “At this point we have alternatives and possibilities.”
Looks to me, Hendrick, Bosold, Zyskovitch and the developer are being deliberately vague, which causes me to think they have reasons for being deliberately vague, reasons which will freak out Torregrossa and anyone else who cares about Old Town.
The new development promises to completely transform the 24-acre parcel, bought by White Street Partners for $35 million in August. The Navy and Southeast, its private housing management company, sold the neighborhood.
That’s why city staff says it is scrutinizing every detail.
Torregrosa says the new Peary Court will face one of the most important entrances of the historic district, White Street.
That’s why the streets crossing wide, main thoroughfare White Street, not the streets crossing tiny, remote Angela Street, should be used to “blend” new Peary Court into Old Town. One of those crossing streets, Southard, already serves almost half of the current Peary Court units. Fleming Street, lying between Southard and Palm Avenue/Eaton Street, also could be extended into the new Peary Court. Those two entrances can connect through to Palm Avenue. The developer doesn’t want that degree of “blending” into Old Town, of course. In fact, the developer wants the streets inside of new Peary Court to be private streets, which only Peary Court residents and their guests can use.
The site is also surrounded by four urban blocks on Angela Street and the Peary Court Cemetery.
“It’s just a question of getting those details right,” said Hendrick. “Enid is very detailed-conscious. This is more of a conceptual approval. They’re looking at mass, scale, size, proportion and landscaping.”
They are looking at a moving target. They are looking at Jim Hendrick. They are looking at Truman Annex,
built by Pritam Sing, represented by Jim Henrick. They are looking at a foreign developer who got away without having to pay real estate taxes on Peary Court. They are looking at a development they had hoped the Navy would give the city for affordable housing. They don’t like what they are looking at.
However it goes before HARC, it will then get much the same before the City Planning Board. None of which will decide it. The City Commission will decide it. God only knows how much money that will cost the city taxpayers in city staff time and use of city buildings all along that way. The more it costs the developer, the better. If it were my call, I’d made developers pay the full cost of city staff time and use of city buildings for any development larger than building one new residential unit.
Meanwhile, perhaps something interesting will happen at the HARC meeting; something angelinas dream up.
Fa la la,
Political advertisement paid for and approved by Sloan Bashinsky, for Mayor of Key West