by Lauren Daley
The city's Zoning Board of Adjustment has approved the expansion of Lawrenceville's Thunderbird Cafe.
In the ruling issued July 11, the ZBA approved the variances and special exceptions requested by Lawrenceville Holdings VI LP as long as the city's zoning administrator reviews the final site plans and that developers provide a plan for valet parking within 30 days.
As City Paper reported in April, club owner John Pergal is pursuing a $3 million project that would consolidate several properties in the block between 41st Street and Almond Way along Butler Street. The plan would create a new two-story building that will house an expanded Thunderbird, raising the venue's capacity from 246 to 600, and a new three-story building that would hold a restaurant kitchen and residential units above. Pergal wants to expand his concert venue to have more of a "supper club" feel.
After an April 11 hearing before the ZBA, at attorney representing community groups Lawrenceville United and Lawrenceville Corporation filed a "Findings of Fact" detailing concerns with the plan. In it's ruling, the ZBA said the expansion would not be a detriment to the neighborhood and wrote that "an unnecessary hardship would result if the variance is denied, and that the proposed use would not be contrary to public interest — it would, in fact, enhance the public interest."
In a statement emailed to the Lawrenceville community this afternoon, the LU and LC wrote that the decision was disappointing, and that "It is clear that the proposed project will have an detrimental impact the neighborhood. LU and LC are working with legal counsel to appeal the ZBA decision."
I've emailed Chris Lasky, vice president of Massaro CM Services LLC and designer/consultant on the plan, for comment on the ruling and we'll post that as it becomes available.