6:00, Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2020

Weinland Park Community Civic Association Housing Committee Meeting at Godman Guild

Present: Resident co-chairs Laura Bidwa and Matt Adair; Residents Chris Micciche, Danielle Garson, John Gifford, Michael Wilkos, Tyler Bender, Julie Erickson, Donna Madlener (remote participant); Guests Matt Negron, Wagenbrenner/Thrive; Dave Perry, zoning consultant for Wagenbrenner/Thrive.

1427 N Grant – Proposal for 8 new single-family homes that will require zoning variances. Dave Perry presented site plans and a zoning variance application for 8 new homes to be built adjacent to existing Wagenbrenner/Thrive homes on the west side of Grant Avenue between 8th and 9th Avenues. The existing small brick commercial building that has been used as a construction office will be demolished. New homes will use same designs as other new homes on Grant, and the lots will be similarly sized. Because the property is now zoned commercial (C4), variances are required to allow residential uses on first floor and to reduce the setback from 25 feet to 10 feet. (The new homes will use same setback as other recently built homes.)

Many questions were asked about current zoning and about why different plans and overlays did or did not apply. This parcel is not subject to review by the University Impact District Review Board because it is outside the Impact District. It is not governed by the Urban Commercial Overlay because the UCO applies only to specified streets that do not include Grant Avenue. Commercial building codes do not apply to these properties because they are residential buildings; commercial zoning is not the same as commercial building codes.

Most of the west side of Grant Ave is currently zoned commercial, while most of the east side is zoned manufacturing, with the exception of the parcel at the NE corner of 5th and Grant (1372 N Grant, see below) which was zoned Commercial Planned Development (CPD) to accommodate senior housing which was never built (see next agenda item for more on this). Dave Perry said Thrive planned to return in the future to request down-zoning of their properties along Grant Avenue to the relevant residential classifications.

Michael Wilkos moved to approve the variances, Matt Adair seconded, motion passed 8-0.

1372 N Grant – Proposal for 2 new apartment buildings that will require zoning variances. Dave Perry presented site plan, initial elevation, and a zoning variance application for 2 new 3-story apartment buildings with a total of 66 units (60 1BR and 6 2BR, total of 72 bedrooms).

The first request is to rezone the parcel from Commercial Planned Development (CPD) to Apartment Residential (AR-2). The second set of variance requests include changes to parking lot coverage, parking spaces, setback, floor area ratio, and height. Current residential zoning generally reflects suburban standards and conflicts with the recommendations in the University District Plan (UDP), which specify urban development patterns. The proposed buildings meet or exceed standards in the UDP, with the exception of height; an increase from 35 feet to 45 feet is requested.

Committee members favored denser development than is indicated in the proposal, many asking why there couldn’t be another floor added to the buildings. A general desire for variation in materials and design from the recently constructed apartment buildings was also expressed, as well as disappointment that this prominent corner would not be seeing any special treatment or enhancement of the buildings there. Danielle Garson moved to approve the variances, Julie Erickson seconded, motion passed 6-2.

Update on other Wagenbrenner/Thrive properties:

  • Four-family apartment building on SE corner of Hamlet & E 8th should get its final occupancy inspection this week. Units will be leasing shortly thereafter.
  • Former Rice Paddy buildings Thrive is in talks with a potential user although nothing is final yet; interest generally has picked up.
  • NE corner of N 4th and E 5th Internal kickoff for development of this parcel will happen this month. There are some questions to settle with the city’s traffic division.