Stark Enterprises's plans to nearly double its area and rearrange office and housing space have some residents concerned about the hustle and bustle coming to their backyards. Crocker Park, which is nearly at capacity now, is hoping to expand to 3 million square feet.
The addition of a seven-story office building connected to another six-story building for American Greetings offices, along with three four- to five-story garages has residents asking questions about their situation next to tall office buildings instead of a housing development.
“I’m really concerned about building height,” said Pat Delvecchio, a Wyndgate Court resident.
Planning Commission Secretary Daniel Meehan said he thinks the heights of garages and buffering are doable, but has concerns about the American Greetings office building up against residential areas.
“That will take some time in looking through and working on it,” he said, noting that he is interested to see how the developers will transition between the various building heights. “We also have to make sure that the quality of work done there carries through with everything, and it’s part of our job to make sure that happens.”
Under the plans submitted to the city, Main Street in Crocker Park will continue to the south, lined by ground-level retail with residential space above instead of high-density housing like the existing Westhampton homes. Plans also include a hotel at the corner of Crocker Road and Union Street that could be as large as 250 rooms.
“We’re certainly adding more office space than we originally intended,” said Steve Rubin, chief operating officer of Stark Enterprises. The square footage of housing will not change from the original plans. “One of the things we’ve found is that people really love living in the core over retail in the midst of all the action."
Residents of Savannah Estates also expressed concern about a turnaround at the end of the development, which is technically an encroachment on Crocker Park land.
“There have been significant conversations with Savannah and with Wyndgate Court,” Rubin said. “American Greetings is going to give them a turnaround and then build a buffer to shield them so that we pay appropriate attention to that edge. I think that will address those issues.”
Now that American Greetings owns the land, there are also concerns about emergency access.
“This land will be American Greetings land, so we need a solution on how to deal with emergency vehicle access, fire trucks, postal workers needs to be accomplished on this property,” said Jack Bialosky with Bialosky + Partners Architects. After speaking with the city’s fire department, the architectural firm proposed a hammerhead be built with grassy pavers.
“We want to continue the berm on the front of Wyndgate to be brought around and put in between Wyndgate and American Greetings,” Bialosky said. “We think this can be beneficial to both Wyndgate and Crocker Park.”
Some residents are complaining of lights from the Main Street garage on the west side of the property and worry about similar issues with the new parking garages.
“Liner lofts are being built,” Rubin said. “Those lights were never intended to be a problem. We’re going to make sure we address that.”
Plans to address lighting from the new garages include closing several walls and a 40- to 50-foot buffer.
Developers will present a model of the new layout at the next planning commission meeting on Aug. 15.