Bridge Road apartments still coming

Published 9:07 pm Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The project manager for a 144-apartment complex on Bridge Road said this week that construction should begin by February.

The complex was approved by City Council two years ago, after months of contentious discussion. Nearby property owners had concerns about the property, and the city’s planning department and Planning Commission recommended against approval of the project.

Some council members had said they would not approve apartments there. That changed during their lame-duck period, after they lost re-election and before the new members took the oath.

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Regardless of the project’s history, project manager Sam Cohen said he is trying to listen to concerns and make the complex a first-class development.

“We’ve helped that corridor with the quality of what we’re going to do,” he said.

One concern neighbors had was the appearance of a three-story building on Bridge Road, Cohen said. He solved that issue by putting a one-story building including 36 garages along Bridge Road, with the three-story apartment buildings farther back on the 18-acre site, which is located at 3345 Bridge Road.

“It’s going to be a lot more pleasant to the people who complained about the three-story building,” he said.

Three buildings at the back of the site now will have a water view, he added.

Cohen said the development will include a pool and a clubhouse with a gym.

“That’s usually amenities you find at 300-apartment (complexes),” he said. “We went out of our way to make it a first-class facility.”

Cohen submitted an engineered site development plan to the city in May, according to city spokesman Tim Kelley. It was approved last week and is valid for five years from the approval date.

Cohen said the process has taken longer than expected, but he now looks forward to making the final preparations for the start of construction.

“We’re doing our due diligence,” he said. “We’ve been doing things behind the scenes.”

Plans are about 90 percent complete, financing is nearly complete, and a contractor has been selected.

Developers initially planned an office park for the site but ran into a tough market after building the first office building. That led to the change of plans to rezone it for apartments.

Cohen said another seven-unit commercial building will be constructed as part of the Bennett’s Creek Commons project. An outparcel also is available on the site, and he is seeking the right occupant for that spot, as well.

“We’ve turned down some offers, because we didn’t think it would complement that corridor,” he said.

“I’m excited to be in Suffolk,” Cohen added.  “We’re excited to get it started and live up to what we said we were going to do. We said this was going to be a first-class project. It’s been a long time coming, but it’s been worth it.”