This shopping center is located on Fremont Avenue in Irvington – a major commercial thoroughfare. The owner of the center wants to convert Connolly’s (a furniture store) and several surrounding businesses to residential.
I don’t believe it is a good idea to allow residential development on a retail shopping thoroughfare simply because the owner believes he can make more money that way. Instead, the City should promote investment in our retail shopping areas to make them more attractive and viable. Unfortunately, Council ended up voting 4-1 to allow the applicant to move forward. (I cast the sole dissenting vote.) Fortunately, this was not a final approval of the project but it is a step in that direction.
I believe this decision sends a message to commercial property owners that if they let their properties deteriorate enough that the City will reward them by allowing them to convert the use to housing. This sets a dangerous precedent and could lead to even fewer viable retail areas in a City that is already sorely lacking in attractive places to spend time.