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Meeting Highlights: P&Z Commission Hears Updates on Cheshire Lodge Project

The Richmond Heights group met Thursday.

The Richmond Heights Planning and Zoning Commission met Thursday to discuss the Cheshire Lodge project and possible zoning ordinance changes. This is a look at highlights from the meeting in reverse chronological order.

8:14 P.M.: The meeting has ended.

8:11 P.M.: A new restaurant is expected to open in University Club Tower by early May, Reary said.

8:08 P.M.: Kopolow asks whether there have been any updates . Reary said City Council is still working on the issue.

8:05 P.M.: The discussion over code amendments stems from recommendations made by city planning consultant Todd Streiler.

8:01 P.M.: The commission is discussing how fences should be placed along the buffer zone. City code requires fencing between commercial and residential property, Reary said.

7:59 P.M.: The buffer issue would affect both renters and homeowners, Reary said. Some commission members had indicated that they thought it would apply primarily to people living in rental properties.

7:55 P.M.: At issue are areas identified in city code as a C-2 zone. In addition to parts of Big Bend, it applies to parts of Clayton Road. For a look at which parts of Richmond Heights are zoned as C-2 business districts, check out this map from the city's website.

7:52 P.M.: Reary is discussing the possibility of amending city code as it relates to creating a buffer zone between commercial and residential property. Several of the commission members appear in favor of shrinking the zone from 35 feet to 10 feet while retaining the flexibility of working with developers on an individual basis to adjust the size of the buffer. It would apply to areas such as Big Bend Boulevard.

7:42 P.M.: Now under discussion: Whether the city should re-examine its requirements on the height of buildings in the city. At this time, city code allows for a maximum of three stories or 45 feet, Reary said. "I think we should think about leaving it the way it is," commission member Michele Kopolow said. One issue the city faces with regard to the height of buildings is the proximity of residents, Reary said. "You're always going to be on top of residential," he said.

7:39 P.M.: Building and zoning commissioner David Reary is presenting possible amendments to the city's zoning ordinance. Among the items in discussion: Allowing residential units in areas zoned for commercial development.

7:33 P.M.: The commission has approved the site-plan review and conditional-use permit with 12 provisions. Among them: Signage at the hotel must conform to the city's code.

7:25 P.M.: Commission member Neil Clavers asked for clarification on plans for the outside of the hotel. Smith indicated that the exterior is composed of a concrete structure with stucco facade is in good shape and doesn't need painting. The single-pane glass windows will be kept. It might be a little drafty in some of the rooms, he said, but it would be impossible to replicate them, and replacing them would detract from the building's charm.

7:21 P.M.: Among the possibilities developers are considering bringing back from the Cheshire's past: Getting a bus to provide transportation to patrons and providing horsedrawn-carriage rides to the Muny, Smith said.

7:17 P.M.: A daytime market of some kind—possibly resembling a farmers market or —is planned for the Cheshire complex, Smith said.

7:14 P.M.: Construction on a restaurant associated with the Cheshire would most likely begin by the end of this year and take about 10 months, Smith said. The exterior of the building will be upgraded in some places but will need to remain true to the character of the site circa the mid-1900s in order for the project to be eligible for historic tax credits.

7:09 P.M.: The renovations inside will be "very extensive compared to what we normally would do on a hotel" because of the state in which it was purchased, Smith said. Rooms will be equipped with safety measures such as fire sprinklers. Suites will feature jacuzzi pools and will have a more contemporary flair than in the past.

But people will still be able to recognize it as the Cheshire, Smith said.

"Even the bear is staying for right now," he said. Other planned interior upgrades: new paint, flooring and tile, new bathroom doors and ceilings, and a new boiler system downstairs.

7:13 P.M.: CI LLC also owns in Clayton.

7:05 P.M.: Among the ideas for the site:

  • A patio with a small fire pit and chairs.
  • A double-door entrance into the existing vestibule.
  • New paint and lighting for the pool.
  • A mixture of evergreen plants and deciduous shrubs outside of the building.

7:02 P.M.: "We've been given tons of support," said Chad Smith, representing CI LLC. That company has purchased Cheshire Lodge. "Everybody's looking forward to this gem of a building being restored."

6:55 P.M.:  A site-plan review and conditional use permit are being sought for the .

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