As far as owner Giorgio Atzeni is concerned, Spa City Recycling is a good neighbor and a viable business, and he wants it to stay at the same South Franklin Street location where a scrap yard has existed for nearly a century.
Purchased from Sol Figelman in August 2012 and reopened under the new name the following month, Spa City takes in a variety of metals and appliances, provided the material isn’t contaminated with fluids. Atzeni describes his operation — wedged between the Beekman Street Arts District to the west and a predominantly residential street to the east — as considerate of its surroundings.
“We’ve cleaned up around here,” he said of his business. “It’s a great convenience to be in the neighborhood and I think we’re serving a good purpose.”
Of course, there are some who believe a scrap yard has no business being prominently located in a neighborhood where roughly a decade of revitalization has brought increased vitality and boosted property values. Others see the small fenced-in parcel as the key to bringing the arts district something it has largely lacked since it was established in 2003: off-street parking.
“This has been something the residents have been asking about for a long time,” Mayor Joanne Yepsen said.
She is now scheduling a meeting with Spa City Recycling to see if perhaps the business would be amenable to a land swap. The city would trade the business land it could use that isn’t located near a residential area in exchange for property essential for creating a large public parking area to serve the arts district and neighborhood.
Yepsen mentioned the potential of a land swap or perhaps an outright purchase of the property during a town hall-style meeting she hosted last week at the Principessa Elena Society on Oak Street, a block from Spa City Recycling. She cautioned that the process is “very preliminary” but hopes something can be worked out, even if it’s a direct purchase of the property by the city.
“If we’re going to create a desirable area for people to locate as artists and residents, we need to accommodate them with parking,” she said.
Parking is considered one of the most prominent obstacles to expanding the arts district. Last month, the city’s Planning Board voted against supporting the Beekman Street Association’s proposal to more than double the area where art studios and other commercial uses are allowed.
Residents of the area had a litany of concerns about the proposed zoning change ranging from the breadth of the expansion to the allowable commercial uses. City planners ultimately decided the arts district expansion wouldn’t resolve some of the issues that continue to stymie growth in the existing district.
Though the City Council will have the ultimate say on the zoning change, Yepsen said issues of density and use need to be revisited along with the lack of off-street parking. And that could start with working out a deal to acquire the scrap yard.
Acquiring the property, however, won’t be as simple as it seems. Spa City owners Atzeni and James Riccardi purchased only the business — they lease the land under it. Figelman is the owner-of-record for the 0.08 acre parcel with the scrap yard and three other similar-sized properties along Cobb Alley, according to county records. Tax bills are now sent to a post office box owned by Spa City Recycling.
Atzeni declined to discuss the duration of his lease. He said he’s willing to discuss moving, but that the current location suits his business perfectly.
“I’m open to suggestions and we’ll take it from there,” he said.