Cannon Place no place for high-rise, neighbors say

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Dozens of residents showed up on Monday to express their distaste over a proposal to build a 93-unit apartment building at 3469 Cannon Place.

After last month’s no-show at Community Board 8’s Land Use Committee meeting, engineers representing Jackson Development Group presented a proposal for the building at 3469 Cannon Place at Monday’s meeting.

The proposal for a 96,000-square-foot mixed-income apartment building on the same 30,000-square-foot site Urban Pathways once planned to build a homeless shelter was met with concerns about traffic safety and congestion, that the building would change the character of the neighborhood and that construction would be costly and dangerous. 

Long Island-based Jackson Development Group plans to construct a building with a mix of affordable and market-rate apartments on a site comprising two lots, one of which Jackson Development has owned for years and another it purchased two weeks ago.

Members of the Fort Independence Park Neighborhood Association came to the meeting with a stack of handouts expressing 10 reasons they oppose the development as well as an engineer’s report addressing the fragility of the retaining wall that supports Cannon Place. 

The study, conducted by Grigg and Davis Engineers, P.C., reports that the amount of rock excavation needed for the development project would result in a “very high” probability of damage to adjacent properties on Cannon.

A representative for MJM Construction, which is working for Jackson Development on the project, said the company would not touch the retaining wall and that concerns about rock blasting were unfounded because the rock would be split instead. 

But residents still contended that building on the site would constitute a misuse of public funds because it is difficult and, thus, expensive, to develop. 

Jackson Development said it is considering 60 percent market-rate and 40 percent affordable apartments, which would make it eligible for financing through municipal bonds. 

Detractors at the meeting also expressed concerns that the building would be too large for a narrow, quiet street on which no large building stands. They said it would block sunlight and create a claustrophobic feeling in the neighborhood. 

Since it sits on a hill, the proposed building would rise six or seven stories above Cannon Place and 11 stories above Ft. Independence Street. Ron Schulman of Jackson Development, however, assured residents that, “As architects, we’re very sensitive to scale, character of the building, as it fits in a neighborhood.”

The plan includes a multi-level parking garage with 120 parking spaces and an entrance on Cannon Place.

Residents who live nearby said they feared congestion would affect ambulances coming and going from the Kingsbridge Heights Rehabilitation Center and that a parking facility entrance on Cannon Place would cause congestion and safety risks.

The Urban Pathways plan to build on the same site was scrapped in 2010 amid outrage from residents and some local politicians. The building currently being proposed for the hill between Cannon Place and Ft. Independence Street would be completed by September 2013, according to the developer’s plan.

Charles Moerdler, chairman of CB 8’s Land Use Committee, invited Jackson to come before that body again on Monday, May 2, with a revised plan that addresses the community’s concerns.

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