Athens and Central Ale House

The owners of the Athens Restaurant on Central Street in Manchester are selling the building to a developer.

A proposed eight-story, mixed-use building with 77 apartments on Central Street in Manchester got several variances from the zoning board last week.

The project at 21-31 Central St. still requires approval from the planning board and Board of Mayor and Aldermen.

Athens Restaurant and Central Ale House will close under the proposed plan.

On Thursday night, attorney Roy Tilsley of Bernstein Shur Law Firm spoke on behalf of developer Nazar Vincent of Waltham, Mass.-based Bridgewater Company.

The project is located within the Arena Overlay District, which promotes the economic vitality of downtown, Tilsley said.

“This is the type of development we thought would come when the arena came in,” he said. “It is coming a lot more slowly than people anticipated, but I think this is exactly what I think the city envisioned would be happening with the civic center located downtown.”

The housing is described as “mid-luxury.” The plans include about 2,000 square feet of commercial space, two levels of garage parking below the structure and a rooftop patio with a hot tub. In all, the plan calls for 60 parking spaces.

“This is designed to add to the city’s housing stock,” Tilsley said. “We believe it is an appropriate style for the downtown area and serves the purposes of those zones.”

The project, to be called Grand Central Suites, needed variances for floor area ratio and lot size. The combined lot area is 11,390 square feet; 40,000 square feet normally would be required.

The plans for the project require a use of a portion of Litchfield Lane; a request to discontinue the public way will go before the board of mayor and aldermen.

Several area property owners worried about the use of a portion of Litchfield Lane and parking in the area.

“If there are 77 units and only 60 spaces, that’s a problem,” said George Tsiaras, whose family operates nine apartment units at 67 Central St.

Tilsley said the project requires no parking but the developers believe there are enough spots to draw tenants. A deal might be worked out at a nearby parking garage.

Zoning board members said parking and other matters are under the planning board’s purview.

Timothy Gage, owner of Central Ale House, in a letter to the board wrote the building will enhance the city’s skyline and increase tax revenue.

“I believe this is a rare opportunity for these properties to be developed in a way that will complement the surrounding improvements that have already been made,” he said. “Not only in this block, but Manchester as a whole.”