Popular Mas Tapas in the middle of Belmont is getting a new neighbor. Actually, more than 100 of them.
The Belmont Apartments, proposed by Coran Capshaw- and Alan Taylor-owned Riverbend Development, will consist of at least 138 by-right apartment units, a clubhouse and 27,000 square feet of office and commercial space spread into six main structures.
Residential buildings and the mixed-use space will each be four stories tall, according to the plans, which say the development will sit on about 6.6 acres—although the site plan preliminary application puts that acreage at 5.3, and Taylor says any discrepancy will be cleared up through normal survey work.
“We have talked to the neighbors several times and are planning to set up a regular meeting once a month,” says Taylor. “While they’ve been supportive of the project, they are most concerned about potential traffic issues.”
Taylor estimates 918 vehicle trips in and out of the complex per day, with a peak of 70 vehicles per hour in the morning and 86 per hour in the evening.
Belmont resident Joan Schatzman, who calls the project an “environmental disaster,” says the impending traffic is only part of the problem.
The property used to be wooded and teeming with salamanders, toads and frogs, says Schatzman. The amount of impervious surface will increase from 155,850 to 184,175 square feet, to cover 58 percent of the total area, according to Taylor.
“I want to see smart, environmentally sensitive development,” says Schatzman, who commends the underwater catchment below nearby restaurant Junction, and suggests a huge storm drain for the Belmont Apartments that collects runoff water that would then seep back into the ground, rather than sending it to the Chesapeake Bay.
Schatzman also says a project representative has twice said the apartments won’t be financially viable unless they get a special-use permit to increase the number of residences.
“Here’s what pisses me off,” she says. “They’re going through this charade of by-right apartments of 138 units. Their real objective is to double that.”
Taylor concurs, but says he’s still working on the details.
“In general, we would like to increase density via a rezoning or special-use permit, which would allow for the creation of onsite affordable housing as well as a number of amenities that would benefit all of Belmont,” he says.
Taylor submitted the preliminary site plan application in February and has until July to resubmit a new version that addresses comments from folks at Neighborhood Development Services, according to Missy Creasy, the city organization’s assistant director.
As for the project’s moniker, the Belmont Apartments actually already exist at 1000 Monticello Rd.—so Schatzman suggests a new name for the 46-foot-tall buildings already at a 440-foot elevation: the “Block My View Apartments.”