First Major Piece of 15th and High Redevelopment Approved
Edwards Communities received approval last week from the University Area Review Board to build a six-story, mixed-use development on the east side of High Street between 16th and 17th avenues.
Ryan Szmanski of Edwards said that work on the site could begin as soon as this summer, with a goal of opening by the start of the fall semester in 2018. The project represents the first major piece of what will be a larger transformation of the area, as laid out in Campus Partners’ 15th and High plan.
The new development will require the demolition of eight buildings, including the Wellington building at the corner of 16th and High (the former home of Bernies Bagels & Deli and Johnny Go’s House O’ Music), and the four-story Sigma Nu building at 22 East 16th.
Despite concerns — expressed by both board members and local residents — about the loss of those buildings, the overall plan for the block changed little from when it was first proposed in January. It calls for nearly 50,000 square feet of ground-floor retail, a 171-space parking garage, and 164 apartments containing a total of 448 beds.
The plan received a unanimous vote of approval from the board, according to Dan Ferdleman, city staff to the UARB. He said that board members were generally satisfied with the architectural changes made over the course of multiple reviews.
Meeting minutes show a discussion of the need for more studios or one-bedroom units to attract demographics other than students, but the approved plan eliminates five studio apartments that were in the original proposal, reduces the number of one-bedroom units from 20 to 15, and increases the number of four-bedroom units from 35 to 40. The development will also include 55 three-bedroom, 54 two-bedroom, and 15 one-bedroom units.
Ferdelman explained that the board’s influence is generally limited on matters not related to design, especially since issues like historic preservation and unit mix are not explicitly addressed in city code. Changes to the underlying zoning needed to implement the entire 15th and High plan were approved by the city in 2015 (after first receiving positive votes from the University Area Commission and the UARB).