Bonacio Construction has tabled its application to convert the former Skidmore dormitory known as “The Pink Palace” into 53 apartments, pending what may be extensive revisions that could include the building’s demolition.
The plans for the empty six-story building formally known as Moore Hall has drawn extensive neighborhood opposition from people concerned about residential density and a lack of parking on site.
The city’s Zoning Board of Appeals was expected to make a decision on density and parking variances requested by the developer on Monday, but Bonacio asked that the application be withdrawn, citing some of the neighbors’ concerns.
“The applicant presented a new conceptual plan that would provide for 28 condo units. This would be new construction following demolition of the existing dormitory,” said city senior planner Susan Barden.
Full details aren’t expected to come out until a revised application is submitted in January, but neighbors think what they’ve heard sounds better than the current plan.
“The neighborhood is cautiously optimistic that if this plan goes forward as proposed, it will address some of the major concerns the previous plan introduced,” said John Boardman, a neighborhood resident who has helped organize opposition. “We will continue to track this plan through the various board/committee hearings.”
The former dormitory was built in 1957, when Skidmore’s campus was located on Union Avenue. The building has been unused since Skidmore sold it to a developer in 2006. It is known, often derisively, as the “Pink Palace” for the color of the stone finish on the building.
That developer, Richard Higgins of Norstar Development, planned to tear the building down and replace it with three smaller condominium buildings, but those plans never went forward. That plan won city approval, but Higgins said recently it is no longer feasible financially.
Bonacio’s plans for the property included extensively renovating the existing building to create apartments, which would be marketed as workforce housing near downtown.
They drew enough opposition that City Council members recently held a meeting at the site to see it for themselves.