When the new zoning code came out a couple years back, it included a provision that required a setback on three-story homes constructed on two-story blocks. The reason this happened is up for debate. Some would say it was intended to impede gentrification. Others would argue that it was meant to maintain some sort of architectural uniformity on shorter blocks. Surely there are other reasons we could conjure up as well.
Not up for debate is the lousy on-the-ground impact this provision has generated. We've seen many examples of unattractive setbacks, used to avoid a trip to the ZBA. A Chichen Itza-like home on the 2000 block of Carpenter Street is a fine example. What we haven't seen yet is a four-story building with setbacks on the top two floors. Until now, that is.
We first told you about 2046 Federal St. a few months ago, when it was only a foundation. This was shortly after the former launderette next door had been demolished after blighting the corner for years. We had no idea that the triplex would have its top two floors set back, especially since our understanding of the code would have allowed for no setbacks by right. We were under the belief that a setback was only needed if both homes on either side of a project rose only two stories, and since this property sits at the end of the block it would seem that the setback rule shouldn't apply. NB we are not plans examiners or an attorneys; our opinion doesn't really count.
So either someone at L&I sees the code differently from the way that we understand it, or the developers wanted the building to look like this. Could the latter possibly be the case? We think we'd rather blame the Zoning Code, it just feels so right.
On the plus side, pretty much across the street, a new bar/restaurant is coming nearby. Just this week, we told you that Buckminster's would soon be opening at 21st & Federal in a storefront that's been under construction for awhile. As for the now vacant lot in between the two projects, we've heard nothing. Considering the demand for new housing in Point Breeze though, it wouldn't surprise us if that property gets sold and redeveloped very soon. Just please, no setbacks, ok?