The condition of the North Avenue corridor is important to the health of our city as a whole. North Avenue is a major commercial artery, the gateway to multiple neighborhoods and institutions, and a principal carrier of commuters, shoppers and travelers. Unfortunately, for decades North Avenue suffered from neglect and under-investment.
Several years ago, the City commenced a multi-faceted effort to enhance North Avenue’s appearance and function. Most notable have been the well-received streetscape projects near Iona and City Hall (with additional federally-funded work planned this fall to extend the new streetscape south to Lockwood.)
As an essential complement to this public investment, the City has also worked to devise new zoning standards that might better stimulate privately-funded rehabilitation and construction. The fruits of this effort, devised with input from multiple neighborhood meetings and achieved after lengthy Council debates, will be the subject of a public hearing on Tuesday, November 9th at 7:30pm.
In a nutshell, the new zoning would permit a modest increase in allowable size, with a proposed maximum height of three stories or forty feet and a maximum floor-area-ratio of 2.0. The Council elected not to proceed with a more ambitious zoning framework that might have permitted additional height in certain circumstances, opting instead for standards that met with broad public approval and only limited opposition.
The hope and intent of these changes is that greater flexibility in use and design will enhance the value of North Avenue properties and create new incentives for reinvestment. It will take some time to determine whether these relatively modest changes are sufficient to accomplish the intended purpose.