Community Views Coal Yard Lofts Mixed-use Development Proposal

By Heidi Unger

On the second Tuesday of 2017, Third Street Ventures and Blackline Studio presented the third version of the site proposal for the Bonna Avenue property. The design is a hybrid of previously presented designs, created with neighbor feedback in mind. The proposal (including any minor tweaks resulting from the community discussion) will be submitted to IHPC for approval, and the commission will hear the case on February 1, 2017 at the City-County building. Download the 2-1-17 IHPC Agenda and Coal Yard Staff Report PDF. (If you’d like to watch the meeting where this project was discussed, check out Irvington Development Organization on YouTube.)

First-floor commercial and community space

First-floor commercial and community space

Community members (approximately 40 in attendance) viewed the new site plan, which includes a two-story, L-shaped, mixed-use building. The commercial portion of the building features a modern-looking brick and wood exterior, accented with a two-story trellis. The residential façade features gables and board and batten siding, a nod to the surrounding residential area. Apartment units cantilever outward from the main structure to provide additional space and soften the exterior look. The highest point of the building is two feet shorter than the adjacent commercial property on Ritter Avenue.

Residential units facing Bonna Avenue

Residential units facing Bonna Avenue

The development, previously referred to as The Coal Factory, has been renamed Coal Yard Lofts, noting the urban feel of residential space with high ceilings and exposed duct work and the absence of industrial (factory) space in the building.

The building’s anchor is a 3,000 square-foot, first-floor commercial space and community room with glass overhead doors. The community room faces Bonna Avenue and the Pennsy Trail. The commercial space is designed for three business or retail tenants, such as a coffee shop.

The site plan includes 46 residential units. The parking area will contain spaces for 91 automobiles, which is higher than the 84 spaces required by city ordinance. IHPC will not require a parking variance. As mentioned in earlier meetings, an 8-foot privacy fence will border a portion of the irregularly shaped property.

Site drainage hasn’t been designed, but developers are committed to mitigating the drainage issues that have caused headaches for adjacent property owners. At this early stage, developers expect to include swales, potentially at the back (south) side of the building. Swales are a natural way to manage storm water. The site is also expected to include underground retention, most likely at the north end of the property.

Phase I of the environmental study is complete. If the project moves forward, a Phase II assessment will provide more detail about the scope of the work required. Developers would work hand in hand with the appropriate state and local agencies to meet or exceed any requirements for remediating site contamination.

The development team intends to use high-quality, durable building materials in accordance with IHPC recommendations and requirements, including brick, wood, and fiber cement products. Choices for exterior wood used on the building include a durable oak and ash product (depending on availability) or stained cedar. The building’s masonry stair towers will be constructed of charcoal-colored block, an architectural reference to the property’s former history as a coal yard. Galvanized metal and wire mesh railings will be installed on balconies.

The building currently occupied by Playground Productions and Black Acre Brewing will remain on the property and might at some point be sold to the current tenants. At this time, Third Street Ventures doesn’t intend to make improvements to that structure.

Regarding the upcoming milestones the project must pass, Craig McCormick of Blackline Studio says that his team is “confident about the design [which is subject to IHPC approval] and hopeful for the tax credits.”

The expectation is that IHCDA will notify applicants in late February of Section 42 tax credit awards. If the development team isn’t awarded Section 42 tax credits, Third Street Ventures might need to make changes to the site design. In that case, the developers would host another community meeting requesting neighbor feedback, and they would also be required to submit any changes to IHPC for approval.


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