Multi-family development on Fifth Avenue approved despite neighbor’s concerns

The Historic Preservation Office approved the proposed construction of a multi-family building at 837 N. 5th Ave. (Sarah Nachbar/DD)

A proposed multi-family development in the Roosevelt Neighborhood was approved with stipulations following a neighbor’s concern about how the look will effect the character of the historic neighborhood.

Plans for a proposed four-unit two-story building on N. Fifth Avenue were approved at a Historic Preservation Hearing on Tuesday, but it is unlikely work will begin this year. The property, currently a vacant lot, is poised for development of a four-unit two-story building was given a Certificate of Appropriateness at a Historic Preservation Hearing on Tuesday.

The Certificate of Appropriateness, which is required to begin construction on the exterior of any building in a historic district, was passed with stipulations due to the lot’s proximity with historic buildings.

Jeff Swan, the owner of two historic buildings flanking the property, took issue with the new building’s proposed layout. His properties, located at 833 and 841 N. 5th St., are one-story homes. He said the large four-family housing complex would be too close to his property and too far in front of the historic buildings, dwarfing them.

According to the Historic Preservation Office’s General Design Guidelines For Historic Properties, “…new properties should be similar in height, shape, and materials to the historic structures in its vicinity. Where changes in size must occur, the visual impact of the new construction should be minimized by stepping back the new construction from the historic buildings.”

The lot’s owner, Danny Bockting said with the new changes his team had incorporated, the building plans will fall within these guidelines.

Danny Bockting, owner of the lot at 837 N. 5th Ave, presented these plans for a multifamily housing unit during Tuesday’s Historic Preservation Hearing. (Courtesy of Danny Bockting)

“We’ve done a lot, made a lot of considerations with our design, and we think we’re really designing within the guidelines of historic preservation,” Bockting said.

Swan disagreed.

“You’re putting [the historic buildings] in the same plane as the new building,” he said during the meeting. “I don’t think that is acknowledging that you have historic buildings on both sides and I don’t think that’s appropriate in a historic district.”

Ultimately hearing officer Janet Reed ruled the building fell within Historic Preservation guidelines, with some stipulations.

“I wish it was set back further, but I’m going to say, if it meets the guidelines in the opinion of the Historic Preservation staff, then I support the recommendation,” she said.

The building’s new facade will be in line with its neighbor to the north, 841 N. 5th Ave, but will still be closer to the street than 833 N Fifth Ave., Swan’s other property.

“I think you’re totally misinterpreting the guidelines, to tell you the truth. I am going to appeal it,” Swan said after the decision.

If Swan appeals within the next five days, the case will move on to the Historic Preservation Commission. If the commission can’t resolve the issue, the next step will be City Council.

Bockting began the process of approval in March of this year and planned to begin construction that same August. These plans were postponed to accommodate Phoenix’s Historic Preservation department and its review process. Building construction is scheduled at the beginning of 2018, but an appeal process could postpone this.

“I’ll take it as far as I can take it,” Swan said.

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