By Carol McCracken (Post # 2,183)
“Washington Avenue is an up and becoming area. We are taking a big risk here,” Jed Rathband spun about a dozen or so neighbors at a public meeting last night on plans to build 17 townhomes and a commercial space – East Cove Townhomes – at 145-155 Washington Avenue last night. Rathband’s business partner, the volatile Ron Gan, was not present at the meeting that was held at the East End Community School on North Street at 7:00 pm.
Rathband, who is a real estate broker with Keller Williams Realty said that he and Gan have been working on this development for about a year now and have finally decided on a plan that includes four buildings plus a commercial space that could be a cafe. They have an option to purchase two properties at 145 – 155 Washington Avenue; one is currently Casale’s Auto Services and Sales and the adjoining property is owned by a Mrs. Fenton.
But will the project fly? That depends on whether or not the two can pre sale enough units (7 or 8) to get the money they need to finance the project. “”We’ve been talking to local banks and will continue to do so,” Rathband said. He hopes the financing will come from a local bank, but isn’t sure at this point. One young couple has already agreed to purchase a unit. “We are particularly overjoyed at this customer. It is a young professional couple with a young child,” Rathband said. It’s a unit that costs $459,000. Rathband acknowledged the two have been criticized for not building affordable housing in the area. Michele Perejda, a broker for Keller Williams Realty and a neighbor of the project, said she was glad that it was not going to be affordable-housing.
Rathband and Gan have applied to the city’s planning office for a zone change – from an R6 to a B2b. Rathband conceded that the zone change would permit much smaller setbacks than are currently permitted in the R-6 zone as well as for commercial space. This meeting is a requirement by the city as a prelude to their appearance before the planning board on August 26th for the zone change application.
Gan met with the planning board earlier this week in support of his application for a zoning amendment change to the city’s ordinance that would have permitted him to develop his property on Sumner Court, a dirt passage way off North Street on Munjoy Hill. (Neighbors formed a group – Save Sumner Court – in opposiltion to the project because of the unpopularity of the project. The group remains in tact because it always believed Gan would keep trying to develop Sumner Court somehow.) Gan failed to convince the planning board earlier this week of the urgency for the zone change at this time.