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City approves revision of Broad Marsh housing development

(June 21, 2013) In yet another example of the city’ ongoing adaptation to the post-bubble real estate market, the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission this week approved a new plan for the Broad Marsh development, which will now be continued as a multi-phase townhouse project instead of a condominium complex.

The proposal had been brought before the commission earlier this month, but been tabled after the developers said they were unclear about how the city would be reviewing their project during the process.

The housing development, located between 69th and 70th Streets west of Coastal Highway, had been designed and partially constructed several years ago as a condominium. But work was soon discontinued, with only the first phase of construction complete.

That facility currently exists as a condo. But the development’s backers told the city recently that they would like to pick the project back up, but instead be able to sell the units as fee-simple structures on individual land parcels, instead of the condominium system. This would allow units to be constructed and sold with customer demand, reducing the investment overhead of the project.

This required the original layout of the development to be tweaked so all of the units, while still joined together, would be sitting on their own lot.

“Some of the initial phase had what we call ‘stacked’ condos, where your unit was on top of another unit and not on its own ground per se,” city Zoning Administrator R. Blaine Smith told the commission. “These are now gone, everything is fee-simple from the ground up.”

Each unit will now have its own sewer and water access line, as fee-simple homes are not allowed to share such utilities as condo units are. The layout of the development will remain unchanged, however, with roads to be built on public easements between the rows of homes.

These roads will not be maintained by the city, but by a homeowner’s association to be formed for the development. This association will also assume control over the shared amenities, such as a swimming pool, originally designed for the condominium project, which are still slated to be built.

“They do have agreements in place between the prior part of the project and this new phase to use and maintain those facilities,” Smith said.

However, the developer will be responsible for those facilities until the homeowner’s association has enough members to become self-sufficient. Once a certain percentage of the development is sold, state law requires the developer to turn over control to the homeowners.

“You can do it before that, but it doesn’t behoove you to do so because you lose control [over the powers of the association],” said project representative Josh Mastrangelo.

Regardless of the plans, however, each phase of construction on the project will be given separate approvals by the city, as if they were separate projects.

“Each phase has to stand on its own merits,” said Commissioner Peck Miller. “Phase one and phase two have to stand alone in case you don’t finish.”

The commission approved a preliminary subdivision for the lot, as well as the plans for the first two phases of construction.

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