French Pantry developer takes first step toward new Murray Hill business

French Pantry developer takes first step toward new Murray Hill business
The former Edgewood Bakery will be the site for a new 191-seat French Pantry restaurant in Murray Hill.

John Valentino, IV, owner of Pie High Real Estate Holdings, LLC – which includes Mellow Mushroom, Burrito Gallery and French Pantry restaurants across Jacksonville – received the green light with no conditions from the Planning Commission March 23 to put a new French Pantry in Murray Hill.

Valentino had purchased the property and building of the former Edgewood Bakery, a 69-year-old Murray Hill icon, in February 2016 for $700,000, with the intention of putting in his second French Pantry restaurant. He went before the Planning Commission to get approval for three applications: a zoning exception, an administrative deviation, and a waiver.

The zoning exception sought outside sales and service/retail as well as service of alcoholic beverages at the proposed 191-seat restaurant, including open-air garden seating in the corner courtyard at Post Street and Edgewood Avenue.

The administrative deviation sought a reduction in parking spaces from 54 to 40 on site, a reduction in minimum landscape requirements from 2,915 to 2,474 square feet, and a reduction in backyard buffer from 15 to 3 feet. The requested deviation for parking includes three spaces for motorcycles as well as space for bicycles. There are also nine parking spaces directly in front of the building along Edgewood Avenue.

The landscape deviation of nearly 500 square feet is required to allow for some of the off-street parking. The reduction in yard setback from 15 to 3 feet will be ameliorated by the use of a 6-foot fence or 5-foot evergreen hedge to be erected between the onsite parking and the adjacent property on the southwest edge of the former bakery site.

The third application was a waiver of minimum distance requirements for a liquor license, from 500 to 225 feet. The proposed restaurant, at 1012 Edgewood Ave. South, is within 500 feet of two churches and two worship centers, none of which were present to oppose the application.

The Murray Hill Preservation Association did not oppose the applications, stating it was pleased to see additional business on Edgewood Avenue.

Since Valentino is not seeking a change in zoning, the project does not need to go before either Land Use and Zoning Committee or the City Council. With the Planning Commission’s approval, Pie High Real Estate Holdings can take the next step – renovating the property – toward opening French Pantry number two.

“We are clear to proceed,” said Valentino. “We will be remodeling the current space and will not likely start any construction until late this year with a proposed opening sometime in 2018.”

By Kate A. Hallock
Resident Community News

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