Shorter building gets higher praise with revised plan for downtown Lebanon apartments

  • Hanover developer Jolin Kish is planning to build an 18-unit, three-story apartment building at 14 Bank St. in Lebanon. Courtesy Kish Consulting and Contracting

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/15/2020 9:54:14 PM
Modified: 12/15/2020 9:54:07 PM

LEBANON — Plans to tear down a more than 172-year-old boarding house and replace it with a three-story apartment building on Bank Street appear to be headed toward fruition after city officials this week praised aspects of the project.

Hanover developer Jolin Kish’s proposal to build 18 two-bedroom units at 14 Bank St. reflects the type of growth many have called for in downtown Lebanon — new housing that’s accessible to public transportation, city services and recreation, according to Planning Board member Joan Monroe.

For that to happen, she said, officials have to accept higher-density and taller buildings. Kish’s project is slated for a roughly 1-acre lot that also would include her existing 10 Bank St. apartment building, which would see three new units added on.

“That’s what downtown is, it’s tiny little lots or no lots at all and a building that goes right up to the property line,” Monroe said at the end of a roughly one-hour public hearing Monday night.

“I think it’s such an improvement over what was there before,” she said of the plans.

Monroe’s comments were followed by a unanimous vote to waive some landscaping requirements that will allow Kish to fit 56 parking spaces in driveways and a rear parking lot.

That amounts to 2.2 parking spaces per unit when 10 Bank St.’s eight apartments are factored in.

Other waivers — such as those allowing Kish to maintain trees near the property line, forgo landscaping around some buildings and go without some screening measures — will be taken up by the Planning Board on Jan. 11.

Monroe’s comments, and the lack of pushback from neighbors, bodes well for the development, which faced significant resistance when it was initially floated last year.

At the time, Kish pitched building a four-story structure on the property that would hold 36 two-bedroom apartments and stand slightly taller than the AVA Gallery and Art Center, which sits across the street.

Neighbors complained about the size of the building, saying it threatened their views and would disrupt a largely residential neighborhood.

Others said the destruction of 14 Bank St. would result in the destruction of an 1848 structure that was once home to Colbee C. Benton, a Lebanon merchant, two-term selectman and surveyor who recorded much of the route for the Northern Railroad.

Kish and her architects have maintained that there’s little left of the original mansion and that restoring the structure is not financially feasible.

After Kish failed to obtain waivers needed for the larger building in July, she pitched a scaled-back project. Her plans now call for a total of 26 apartments, as opposed to 47.

The building itself would be entered through a front porch, rather than a tower, that faces Bank Street. Renderings show it painted in gray and cream colors.

“We took the staff comments and made sure we addressed (them),” Kish said Monday. “If there’s a mistake, they found it and we fixed it.”

Neighbors who attended Monday’s hearing, which was held virtually, had little to say about the project, with most in favor of allowing Kish to go forward.

“Jolin Kish’s new building is much improved over her original plans and very appreciated,” Green Street resident Kathy Elfstrom wrote in a letter to the Planning Board ahead of the meeting.

Elfstrom went on to say she didn’t like the proposed building’s color but appreciated its “many eaves brackets/corbels,” calling them a “lovely feature that are very fitting” for the neighborhood.

While the Planning Board appeared happy with Kish’s efforts, they plan to tackle possible issues, such as the building’s roof, in future meetings. City staff pointed out that a flatter roof could result “in a less imposing building.”

The Planning Board will again take up the project at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 11.

Tim Camerato can be reached at tcamerato@vnews.com or 603-727-3223.




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