The developer behind the contentious commercial project formerly known as Stanford Crossings now seeks to move the historic Ingersoll Residence a few hundred feet across the property as part of a revamped proposal.
Highbridge Development’s original plan called for constructing a half-dozen retail businesses surrounding the former Ingersoll Residence retirement home, located on Balltown Road. The old brick mansion was to be used as a restaurant.
Chris Boyea of Bohler Engineering told the Planning Board on Monday that there have not been any tenants interested in using the house as a restaurant, partly because significant upgrades would be required, including constructing an addition to house the kitchen apparatus and gas lines.
“It’s a concern that building may just become a building that people drive around,” he said.
Instead, the Ingersoll building would be moved 350 feet from its current location so it faces Balltown Road across from Mohawk Commons.
“It’s a focal point of the center versus an obstacle. We wanted to see it get used,” Boyea said.
Also, the new changes would allow for handicapped accessibility.
The developer plans to work with Wolfe House Movers LLC of Bernville, Pa. There would be retail space added on both sides of the mansion in a similar architecture style.
In addition, the total square feet of building space would be reduced and the number of parking spaces reduced by 50. The internal traffic pattern would also change with a new road in the site. The amount of green space would remain essentially the same.
The site was cleared of most trees in the spring of 2009 and an 80-year-old addition built for the Ingersoll home was torn down last June.
However, there has been little activity since then, prompting an outcry from residents that the site was denuded.
Highbridge President John Roth was not present at the meeting but said in a statement he is confident that the business climate is changing and tenants will come to the project, renamed Mansion Square.
“The goal is, brand the site using the mansion as a centerpiece of a new retail development,” he said.
Boyea said he was aware of at least four or five tenants expressing interest in the site.
One question was whether Highbridge would have to go through the site review process again. It appears not.
Town Planner Kathy Matern said changes of this type were not uncommon in developments of this scope. She did not think a full-scale review was required.
Boyea said the company has experience in moving such structures. Highbridge’s statement lists major house relocation projects such as one in Mechanicsville, Iowa, where a Victorian house was moved more than five miles.
The board will hold another work session June 28 at 7:30 p.m.
Linda Champagne of the Friends of Stanford Home, which sued to block the project in the past, said she thought the revision was “ridiculous.”
She said the group’s attorney believes that this is a significant change to the plan that requires a full review of the original special use permit granted for the project.