by Robert Cox, OMVNA Vice Chair
“If March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb,”–an apt proverb for beginning of construction of the Prometheus Real Estate Group apartment complex on the old 455 West Evelyn Avenue Minton Lumber site. “The buildings came down with the thunder of an earthquake”, a Palmita Place resident exclaimed. “It was like Oklahoma in the 1930s”, a Houghton Street resident added, referring to the clouds of dust from the demolition.
To prepare the residents for the coming construction, Prometheus’s senior development manager, Nathan Tuttle, held a meeting at Park Place, February 17, with a slide presentation of the buildings’ construction timeline, followed by time for questions. Major external construction is to take 13 months, followed by 9 months of internal construction. Residents would be on site in the first quarter of 2013. In the questions, Stella Corrall, Houghton Street, noted that the ornamental pear trees selected for one side of the property were a continuing source of problems on her street. “Because of the dense soil in the area, these trees have surface roots that buckle the sidewalks and they also drop sticky fruit that gums up the sidewalks and is a pedestrian hazard.” Mr. Tuttle said he was open to another choice. A few weeks later, the neighbors happily learned that Chinese Pistachio trees would be used instead.
Another potential concern was that rodents living on the property might relocate to neighboring homes once the lumber site was demolished. Neighbors in the Classics developments traded tips on exterminators and asked Mr. Tuttle to take proactive steps to destroy the rodent population. Mr. Tuttle eventually announced a policy of capturing and relocating the rodents. One resident wondered if Mr. Tuttle would dress up as the Pied Piper and spirit the rodents off to the Open Space Preserve. Several other OMVNA residents warned such a policy was not only imprudent, but possibly illegal. In the end, either luckily or because of their foresight, few residents have reported trouble with rodents. I’m told that those with flat roofs have fared somewhat better than those with curved tile roofs.
Construction hours (standard construction hours of 7 AM–6 PM, weekends excepted), screening and the location of the office trailer were also concerns. Some residents preferred the construction to begin at 8 AM, so that small children and people bothered by loud noises could be away from the property during construction, but Mr. Tuttle held firm on the times, because they were required to finish the project on schedule. As a courtesy, building demolition was scheduled for midday, and a few local residents thanked Mr. Tuttle for that. The green screening material was installed late along the property perimeter, and several families who live nearby wished for additional construction dust mitigation measures. The office trailer, located on Villa Street, respecting the request of Classics residents, was not located directly at the end of either Houghton Street or Palmita Place.
I took a walk around the project site last night and was amazed to see that the excavation for the underground parking area was nearly complete. I glanced around the site, but Mr. Tuttle in his Pied Piper outfit was nowhere to be seen. But I recalled his promise. “Tell the OMVNA residents, if they have any concerns, they can write to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.” I’’ll also be happy to talk to Mr. Tuttle on your behalf if you prefer. Just write me at email@example.com. In any case, let’s brace ourselves for an eventful next twenty months.