$20M luxury condo complex approved for Letica Drive

By: Mary Beth Almond | Rochester Post | Published July 31, 2018


ROCHESTER — Soave Real Estate Group plans to build a $20 million luxury condominium complex on Letica Drive in Rochester.

The district, zoned RP-research park, does not allow for residential uses, so the development required special project approval from the Rochester City Council. The project passed July 24 in a unanimous vote.

Councilman Ben Giovanelli said he feels it’s the best use of the site, given the zoning.

“Do we want heavy industrial? Do we want chemical? Do we want all this manufacturing going on? … I would rather have us pick what kind of development we want in that spot, versus an industrial-type thing that would just not complement that area at all,” he said. “Given all the alternatives, it’s probably the best use of the site.”

Mayor Rob Ray said he feels the new project is better than the developer’s original site plan — which was approved by the City Council in 2014 but was never built.

“On par, this project is better two times over,” Ray said.

Tom Turnbull, vice president of Soave Real Estate Group, said he is “elated” that the site plan for the new development was approved.

“It’s a great project and it’s going to be great for the city of Rochester. The city of Rochester is really great to work with. It’s a lengthy process, but these things take time,” he said.

First steps: Castle Hill Apartments
In 2014, developers planned to build Castle Hill Apartments — a 133-unit rental complex located within three four-story buildings, complete with carports and a clubhouse — on the site.

Jim Eppink, of Soave Group LLC’s land planning firm, J Eppink Partners, said that at the time, it was “a very good project.”

“We knew that the market would accept it, but for a number of different reasons — different projects that we were working on — we put it on the shelf. We knew it wasn’t quite right,” he explained.

When the site plan approval for the project expired, Eppink said, it gave developers a chance to take another look.

“Rather than pulling it off (the shelf and) dusting it off, (we) brought the team together and said, ‘What can we do better?’ And we are really proud of what we’re bringing back,” he said.

The market has changed since then, Eppink noted.

“A lot of that horrible downturn was caused by the mortgage industry, so there was a period of time there where it was easy to get a mortgage, and then it was very difficult to get a mortgage, so the development community moved toward apartments,” he explained. “Now, of course, the banking is stronger, the development is stronger, the communities are stronger. At the end of the day, we value homeownership.”  

Today: The Overlook
The new development, called The Overlook, is a collection of 72 luxury condos that will be built on an over the 9-acre site on Letica Drive, just south of the Older Persons’ Commission.

Over half of the 9-acre site will be left as open space and will include two overlook deck platforms, hence the name of the development.

“The southern side slopes down greater than 40 feet down to the (Clinton River) Trail and the river, and it has some wonderful features — some natural wildlife that we intend to completely preserve,” said Eppink. “The overlooks are extended boardwalks that come and extend out over the hill and allow people to come out and actually sit out in nature. We expect to have benches and birdhouses, so you can really immerse yourself in the sights and the sounds looking down toward the trail.”

The 72 condos — which will occupy the north end of the property — will be spread across six five-story buildings with 12 units each. The Overlook will include ranch and townhouse options, which will come with balconies and attached parking on the first floor. Eppink said the units will be priced starting at $500,000 and up, with homeowner association fees of around $350 per month.

“We think they will probably be up closer to $600,000,” Eppink said. “The upper-floor units — when they are designed out and built well — certainly could be very close to $1 million. They are going to be beautiful homes.”

As a condition of the special project, the developer had to demonstrate that The Overlook brings something unique to the city and contributes to the public benefit. Eppink said the developers plan to preserve 60 percent of the site as valuable natural area; extend the turning lanes on Letica to handle increased capacity; install a 10-inch sanitary sewer line to the property line adjacent to the OPC facilities garage; make a financial contribution for trailhead improvements on the Clinton River Trail; and plant 30 shade trees at the trailhead.

The project was the second to go through the city’s new Sustainable Rochester development framework, a toolkit city officials say will ensure responsible and sustainable development decisions by measuring six sustainability values: environmental health, mobility, fiscal strength, public services, strong neighborhoods and downtown viability. The Overlook met 14 of the 20 development components, two of which it was not eligible for because it is outside the Downtown Development Authority district, for a total score of 14 out of 18.

“We’re very, very excited about this project,” Eppink said. “We’re proud of it, and we know that the quality that is expected is the quality that we plan on bringing to Rochester.”

A project construction timeline was unavailable at press time.

For more information, call Soave Real Estate Group at (313) 567-7000 or visit www.soave.com.