"The developer hasn't put their plan on the table, [but] we've got a good sense of what's coming," says Jim O'Halloran, chair of the Roosevelt Neighborhood Association's land-use committee. Roosevelt neighbors are getting ready to fight a developer who wants to build a massive multiuse project just south of Roosevelt High School on Northeast 65th Street. Last month, local property owner Hugh Sisley leased an entire block to the Roosevelt Development Group (RDG) for 99 years.
According to Department of Planning and Development spokesman Alan Justad, RDG wants to build a block-long 10- to 12-story mixed-use project, which would tower over the neighborhood. Building on that scale would require a rezone, which would have to be approved by the city council.
At a community meeting on October 23, neighbors lashed out at an RDG representative—Richard Milne—who refused to offer up much information and repeatedly dodged questions about the project. "I'll tell you up front, they asked me to come and talk to you because I don't know a lot," Milne told the large crowd.
Indeed, RDG has been less than forthcoming about the details of the development.
"We are still in the planning phase," says Jon Breiner, RDG's manager. "It's a big project, and it's not something that can be pulled out of my hat."
It's not that Roosevelt is opposed to big buildings. Neighbors want to keep larger, six-story projects along 12th Avenue Northeast—near a proposed light-rail station—and have building heights incrementally "step down" on adjacent streets. Currently, the tallest building in Roosevelt is six stories. "We embrace reasonable density," O'Halloran says. "We just feel density should be concentrated at the central part of the neighborhood."
O'Halloran is in talks with the developer, but he says they're threatening to let the block—currently, boarded-up houses surrounded by a chain link fence—sit until the neighborhood agrees to let the developer build over four stories. RGD denies they've made any threats.