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Butler Sawmill project back from the dead

Butler Sawmill project back from the dead


After the city denied a rezoning for a project planned at the intersection of Butler and Sawmill in February, the developer is back and asking Flagstaff City Council to take a second look.

The project by Texas-based McGrath Real Estate Partners went before the Planning and Zoning Commission last week and was forwarded to the city council yesterday with the recommendation for approval.

The commission’s decision does not come as too much of a surprise. While the development was shot down by Council last month, it had been approved unanimously by the Planning and Zoning Commission before that.

McGrath senior vice president Mark Lindley said after the council’s decision, they had reworked the development into something the council might find more appealing.

“Going through city council was an interesting process -- we got a lot of comments, there was a lot of talk,” Lindley said. “We went back to the drawing board and worked really hard to address a lot of those comments and try to come back with a project that we think would better suit the city, the community and the council.”

When it comes to the changes that were made to the development, the buildings size, footprint and design are the same as originally presented, but the kinds of units within the building have been reconfigured.

The project now contains 28 studio apartments, 26 one-bedroom apartments, 77 two-bedrooms, 66 three-bedrooms and 74 four-bedrooms.

This time, the project also has an entirely different kind of apartment in the form of 60 efficiency units.

Lindley said these are designed to offer a less expensive apartment type and although they don’t have prices finalized, they hope to rent these efficiency units at about $700 per month.

The apartments would have reduced square footage and lesser appliances than others within the project, such as smaller refrigerators and only burners as opposed to a full oven, among other differences.

Six additional townhomes are also now planned on the far side of the parking lot; Lindley said the additional units were made possible because of how they changed the mix of units, reducing the number of parking spaces they were required to provide. These six units will also have private backyards.

When the development was before Council previously, one concerning aspect for some councilmembers was the number of three- and four-bedroom units. These larger apartments are more welcoming to students who can better split the cost of the apartment among roommates.

The changes made to the more recent development have increased the number of apartments from 238 units to 333, but the number of bedrooms those units provide has actually gone down from 854 to 764.

This means the traffic impact of the project will be lessened, according to city engineers, and a lot more units will be marked as affordable housing.

McGrath has agreed to designate 10% of the units as affordable housing, which translates to about 33 units. Previously, 24 of the units had been designated affordable.

Affordable units are meant for residents who make less than the median income in Flagstaff and renters are generally charged no more than 30% of their annual income.

McGrath is also increasing financial investments into the city, including raising its contribution to the city’s affordable housing program from $100,000 to $500,000. McGrath had been giving $25,000 to the police department, but now they will also be giving $10,000 to the city fire department.

When it comes to the commercial section of the property, it appears that Goodwill is planning to open another location in one of the spots, which may employ as many as 50 people, according to city staff.

The city council is planning to take a second look at the development on June 18.

Adrian Skabelund can be reached at the office at, by phone at (928) 556-2261 or on Twitter @AdrianSkabelund.


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