As a Harlem Avenue mechanic waits for the village to act on his proposal to construct a new repair shop, Mayor Anthony Calderone said he’s inclined to vote favorably on the small business owner’s request, but in the meantime is attempting to broker a deal that could lead to a much larger development in the area.
Rod Nunley, the owner of Elite Tire and Auto at 25 N. Harlem Ave., owns a neighboring parcel at the corner of Franklin and Harlem streets where he would like to relocate his garage. Nunley leases the building he’s in now from the Circle Plaza LLC, but that agreement ends on June 30, 2009. The LLC, controlled by Sherree Krisco and two others in her family, also own a sizable portion of the block and are tempting village officials with talks of a massive mixed-use project.
Nunley’s corner lot represents a critical piece of the redevelopment puzzle, according to Krisco, and the parties have been unable to broker a deal.
The lure of Krisco’s still loosely defined proposal could prove problematic for Nunley, who needs several variances from the mayor and the council before he can begin construction. Though Krisco’s office has not submitted any designs for a formal review, Calderone said it is “certainly” appropriate for commissioners to consider Krisco’s interests when voting on Nunley’s proposal.
However, the mayor said there is still an “assemblage of property that needs to take place” that begins with Nunley’s parcel at 7201 Franklin St. Calderone said that in recent weeks he has assumed a more active role in the negotiations between Nunley and the LLC.
“I think that I would be in favor of Rod’s proposed project, but we’re keeping the conversation going and I think that there’s a possibility that we won’t get to that point,” Calderone said of a council vote.
Nunley though, was less certain that a deal could be reached. Several times he has been presented with the option of relocating to other, nearby locations, but said he doesn’t trust that the village or the LLC can broker a deal using land that is owned by a third party. According to a recent interview with Krisco and her attorney, the LLC at one time secured another parcel for Nunley, but could not convince Nunley to sign.
“I know I’m being wishy-washy and not decisive,” Nunley said. “The fact of the matter is people have asked me to sit down and do this and do that, but they haven’t secured any of these properties. How do you do that? How do you trade for something if you don’t even own it?”
Nunley said that at one time he was offered the property occupied by a nearby Harlem Avenue Blockbuster store. Krisco has declined to comment on which addresses have been offered to Nunley, but confirmed that with the mayor’s help she is still attempting to acquire Nunley’s property.
“We’re trying, let’s just put it that way,” Krisco said. “Nothing has been agreed upon at this point.”
According to Calderone, the other properties that Krisco would likely seek to acquire include a multi-unit residential property at 38 Elgin Ave., an animal hospital at 7211 Franklin St., the Blockbuster store at 109 N. Harlem Ave. and a Long John Silver’s restaurant at 123 N. Harlem Ave.
“I don’t think it would be doing justice [to the potential development] if those properties weren’t considered,” Calderone said.
Asked whether the municipality would help Krisco negotiate for those properties, the mayor said it’s possible if the LLC were unable to avoid “road blocks” in those discussions. As media coverage increases the public’s knowledge of Krisco’s vision for the area, the LLC potentially finds itself in an increasingly tight spot, said Calderone. Property owners in the area may learn of the group’s interests and decide to hold out for more money.
However, Calderone also said he’s a “firm believer in letting the free market work.”
In June Nunley’s proposal to construct a repair shop officially received no action from the Zoning Board of Appeals after members voted in a 3-3 tie. It’s unclear when the project will come before the village council, however, Nunley said his anticipated hearing on July 28 has been delayed. Village Administrator Mike Sturino declined to comment on a timeline for when the council might consider the proposal.