City Council to Weigh in on Plan for King Avenue Apartments
City Council will soon decide the fate of a plan by JDS Companies to build 48 townhomes and flats on King Avenue in the University District at the site formerly home to the Church of the Nazarene. The plan has run into resistance from neighborhood groups concerned about its size, unit-mix, and plan for parking.
Although the University Area Review Board (UARB) voted in favor of the development, the University Area Commission (UAC) voted 16 to 1 against the requested zoning variances at its April meeting. Both groups are advisory to City Council, which will make the final decision at the July 14th zoning committee meeting.
Ethan Hansen of the Dennison Place Neighborhood Association said that his group – which went door to door in the area to solicit feedback on the proposal – has heard complaints from a wide range of residents.
“We’ve found that whether they are students, graduate students, retirees, or working professionals,” he said, “they all want to see a greener, lower-density development that blends with the neighborhood, encourages a diversity of tenants, and helps sustain owner-occupancy levels in the neighborhood.”
Hansen also said he laments what he sees as a drop-off in communication from the developer; after some initial meetings last summer, including two design charrettes, efforts to gather feedback from the neighborhood seemed to stop.
JDS Companies president Dan Schmidt said that they worked hard to incorporate ideas generated in those charrettes.
“We redesigned, based on both the neighborhood meetings and the UARB meeting, seven different times,” he said, adding that at the end of that process his team decided to proceed with what they believed was a good design, even if it still did not meet the approval of everyone in the neighborhood.
Schmidt points to the reduced unit count (it went from 72 in the initial design to 48), an improved parking ratio (104 spaces for 150 beds, which will not require a variance), and the revised design featuring two-story townhomes over garden apartments (with no porches or balconies), as evidence of their effort to take the concerns of the neighborhood into account.
The Dennison Place group, though, still has concerns, and has been gathering signatures from those opposed to the development to present to council in advance of the zoning meeting.
One of the big concerns is the unit-mix – 23 two-bedroom units, 24 four-bedroom units, and two six-bedroom corner units – which some in the neighborhood think will be attractive exclusively to undergrads. Another concern is the how the parking is arranged – many of the lots are double stacked – which neighbors fear could lead to some residents parking on the street.
Schmidt said that they have used that style of parking in their other apartment developments without issue. He also thinks that the location and quality of the project will attract a wide range of residents.
“We’re really excited about it,” he said, “it’s a great design, and it’s so close to the hospital, near all the grad schools…you can walk to everything.”
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All renderings by BBCO Design.