The Problem with Buckingham Square

The Buckingham Square Apartments, located at the corner of 32nd street and West Avenue, burned down in March, 2004. The California owner, Chris May, contends that (1) he has the right to be “safeharbored” so that he does not have to build to current code and (2) this safeharboring gives him the right to “restore” the old two-story structure as a significantly more dense three-story structure. After a somewhat convoluted history, the city has given the owner permission to proceed with the “restored” three-story structure.

The Heritage Neighborhood Association strongly objects to this action, for these reasons:

  1. The city erred in granting “safeharboring” rights to this project, and that the owner should have been required to build to current code.
  2. Even if the owner were entitled to “safeharboring”, he should not be allowed to “restore” a two-story building as a significantly denser three-story building.
  3. If the city’s decision stands, our neighborhood will be saddled with a grossly incompatible structure for decades to come. Undesirable and long-prohibited features, such as curb-to-curb pavement and unsafe back into the street parking, will be retained. And the new building’s massive size will be far out of proportion to the surrounding single family homes, and contain almost double the number of units allowed by current code.
  4. The new project makes a mockery of our recently enacted Neighborhood Plan, which traded greater density development rights on the periphery of our neighborhood for greater protection of its heart, where Buckingham is located.

Additional resources concerning this matter:

  • The Neighborhood Association’s motion for summary judgment requesting the court to require the project meet current code. This motion was denied on June 30, 2006, on the basis that “fact issues” remain in dispute.
  • Mark Perlmutter’s Power Point Presentation at the Summary Judgment Hearing, June, 27, 2006.
  • The city’s letter of April 14, 2006, suspending Buckingham’s building permit and requiring the owner to build a building matching the original.
  • The city’s letter of April 26, 2006, denying the owner’s appeal of suspension of his building permit.
  • The city’s letter of June 2, 2006, (Martha Terry letter), reversing its decision and informing the owner of his right to go forward with the project.
  • Neighborhood’s press release on the matter.
  • new! Neighborhood’s 3rd amended petition on the matter.
  • new! Neighborhood’s objectionss, from 1966, to the original upzoning of the property 1966 objections
  • Site plan exemption granted by city and drawings of building owner is attempting to construct.
  • Final sanctions orderFinal sanctions order from the court.

City code