The site of the current City Yard on East Main Street could—in the future—have 300 apartments and 25,000 square feet of retail space.
There are a lot of "ifs" to the process, including who the developer will actually be, where and when the City Yard will move and what will be the fate of the Armory.
Representatives from Forest City Residential Group presented their latest vision of how the site could be developed at a recent meeting of the City Council.
The city granted Forest City in January a 60-day extension to a memorandum of understanding so that it could examine studies paid for by Forest City, but conducted by the city.
Abe Naparstek, Forest City Residential's vice president, said that the economic downturn forced the project to "take a pause."
But he said his company knows more about Echo Bay than anyone else.
Naparstek also said it was "not in our company's DNA to give up.
"We will figure out how to make it work," he said.
The presentation, attached to this article, calls for 250 to 300 apartments, 25,000 square feet of retail space along East Main Street and five acres of public land.
The housing would be predominantly one bedrooms with some studios and two bedrooms, said Armand S. Quadrini, principal and director, KSQ Architects PC.
He said the footprint of the housing would be in the shape of a "P."
"One of the aspects of the 'P' is creating a flanking edge that guides you down to the water," Quadrini said, maximizing the public open space of the project.
The last plan from 2008, found here on the City's Web site, was much more ambitious than what was just presented.
That one proposed 600 luxury apartments, 100,000 square feet of "small shop" retail, 62 waterfront town houses, 42 condominiums and a 15,000 square-foot community building. The development would have required the demolition of the Armory.
Naparstek said the fate of the Armory would lie with the City. He said the parcel needs to remain accessible to the public because of a deed restriction.
"[W]e don't predetermine what will happen to the Armory," he said, adding that his plan was to let the building have whatever fate it is destined to have.
"I think it could become a great restaurant/retail space if you find the right tenant," Naparstek said.
He did propose demolishing the annex portion of the Armory, leaving the iconic tower. The rationale would be to open up the view corridor to the water.
Councilman Albert Tarentino, R-District 2, asked whether the developer would consider rethinking such a massive decline in retail space—from 100,000 square feet in 2008 to 25,000 in the current version.
Naparstek said those numbers were a reflection on the realties of the business.
"The last thing I want to see are empty storefronts," he said.
The next step for the City Council will be to consider a new memorandum of understanding with Forest City Residential so that it could begin the environmental review process, something the developer would be financing itself.