Another Odd Executive Office Plaza Development


An agenda item at tonight’s City Council meeting (7:30 p.m., City Hall) is a request from Park Ridge 2004 LLC, the developer of Executive Office Plaza (“EOP”), to defer the City’s consideration of the Stage 2 development plan for 18 more months, until March 2011.

Back in November 2007, a 4-3 majority of the City Council voted to sweeten the pot for the developer – a joint venture that included Norwood Builders and Chody Real Estate – by giving it 8 more residential units than the City’s zoning code allows, notwithstanding the vigorous opposition of neighboring residents and others in the community who saw no reason for such a variance and/or who suspected it to be the product of insider wheeling and dealing.

As can be seen from the Staff memo dated September 21, 2009 [pdf], the City’s Planning and Zoning Commission (“P&Z”) recommended, back on November 24, 2008, that the Council approve the developer’s Stage 2 plan, but with four conditions. Under the City’s zoning code the Council was supposed to review that recommendation within 30 days, which would have been in December 2008. 

But because “the applicant was not prepared to move forward,” the Council apparently took no action, although we find it puzzling that we can’t seem to find anything in any Council minutes that would explain the legal and/or factual basis for the Council’s inaction – which effectively has given the developer an almost 9-month de facto extension because either someone at City Hall was asleep at the wheel or somebody intentionally (but inexplicably) left it off the Council’s agenda.


In any event, according to a letter from the developer’s attorney [pdf], the “current economic climate does not permit the Developer to secure financing for the Project nor is it advisable to compel the Developer to commence construction of the Project at this time.”  The letter goes on to say that “[i]t benefits neither [sic] the Developer, the City, nor local residents for construction of the Project to occur on the Property at this time.”

Says who?

First of all, we’re more than a little confused by the attorney’s citation to provisions of the City’s zoning code (e.g., Section 5.5(D)(2)(b)(i) and Section 5.5(C)) which – based on the version that’s available on the City’s website – don’t seem to support or even reference the arguments the attorney is making.  Surprisingly, there’s no mention of that in the Staff Memo.

But, more importantly, it seems to us that if this project is going to go forward, there is no benefit to the City or its residents to delay it; and the developer’s attorney didn’t identify any such benefit in his letter.  That also wasn’t questioned in the Staff Memo.

Oddly enough, Community Preservation & Development Director Carrie Davis, the author of the Staff Memo, doesn’t provide the Council with an actual substantive recommendation on the 18-month extension request under the “Recommendation” heading.  Instead, she simply, and without explanation, ignores it – stating only that, if the Council goes with the extension, then the developer should be required to immediately replace all boarded-up windows with glass and remove all the litter.