The development team for the old Mt. Pleasant Garage has won its argument with the city's Department of Licenses & Inspections.
The development team for the old Mt. Pleasant Garage has won its argument with the city's Department of Licenses & Inspections, which issued a stop-work order because the structure had been demolished without a permit, and can now proceed with their development plans.
But the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustments did not rule on the reason for the stop-work order at 7078 Lincoln Drive. Rather, it dismissed L&I’s order because developer David Mednick had made a non-refundable payment made to the city's affordable housing trust fund.
The development team, led by Mednick and his attorney Michael Phillips, had argued that they didn’t need a demolition permit because the structure had no roof, so therefore it wasn’t technically a building. Ceiling trusses visible from the street, Phillips said, were not actually connected to the walls and provided no real structural support. As a result, the removal of the four perimeter walls didn’t constitute an actual demolition.
But in the end, the city said in a statement that none of that mattered.
“The board is not rendering a decision on whether the removal of the trusses constituted demolition under the zoning code,” read the statement, sent by city spokesperson Bruce Bohri. Instead, the decision was based on a non-refundable $300,000 payment the developer had already made to the city’s Housing Trust Fund as part of a zoning bonus. The zoning bonus allows the developer to build an extra story onto the planned property in return for payment to the fund which helps create affordable housing in the city.
“The parties in this appeal have agreed that the appellant/property owner has established a vested right in the subject zoning permit due to the non-refundable payment to the housing trust fund and the work done in reliance on the subsequently issued building permit,” the statement also said. “As a result of this agreement, the board is granting this appeal on the sole grounds that the appellant/property owner has a vested interest in the subject zoning permit.”