Flagstaff planning staff have approved the second rendition of The Hub, a multi-story apartment complex geared toward college students on about 3 acres in Southside.
The new plan calls for 591 bedrooms with 243 parking spots in a 301,047 square-foot building with 6,933 square feet of commercial space and 7,712 square feet of space for a lobby, study rooms, courtyard and other amenities.
The building is three and a half stories tall on Mike’s Pike, five stories tall on Milton Road and a split three-and-a-half-story and five-story building on Phoenix Avenue. Because the alternative plan follows the existing zoning on the site it will not need to come before the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission or Council for approval.
Neighbors and other residents have objected to the plan as too large for the neighborhood or mainly one- and two-story buildings.
Marie Jones, a resident who has opposed the project, said in an email, “The city planning department has approved The Hub site plan without questioning or even mentioning it's non-compliance with transect zoning regulations. It is discouraging, but unfortunately not unexpected, given previous treatment of this developer.”
The City Council blocked the first application with a similar height and density when enough neighbors submitted petitions to require a supermajority of six votes on the 7-member council. Supporters on the council could muster just four votes, and Core Campus, the developer, has returned with a new plan that mainly flips the location of the stores and offices.
Maury Herman, a property owner in the area, has threatened in the past to appeal staff’s approval of what many are calling The Hub 2.0. Herman’s attorney, Bill Ring, said the two are aware of the approval and are evaluating their options.
In order to take legal action against the city in this case, Herman and Ring would probably have to first file an appeal before the city’s Board of Adjustments within 10 days of the approval. Ring said city staff have told him that the 10-day limit only applies to working days, so weekends and holidays do not count toward the deadline. This would put the deadline to appeal near June 17.
The Board of Adjustments is a type of appeals commission to which a developer or a resident can go on a staff ruling on a land use application. The Board usually only meets when there is an appeal of a staff ruling or a developer has requested a variance, or exception, of a local zoning law. According to the city Code, the Board cannot change the city’s zoning code.
The Board can decide to reverse, affirm or modify the planning staff’s decision.
A developer or member of the public can appeal any decision made by the Board, within 30 days after its decision, to the Coconino Superior Court.
Core originally wanted to build a four to five story, 667-bed apartment complex. A large number of the neighbors in the community have objected to the project, saying the size and scale of the building does not meet the city’s transect zoning code.
The transect code was designed to maximize use of limited space in developed neighborhoods. It calls in some areas for taller buildings with retail on the ground floor and apartments on the upper floors. As an incentive, the number of parking spaces and some other regulations are relaxed for developers. The idea is to encourage city residents to live, work, play and shop without using their cars.
"Our group is determined that the regulations as written and intended--which is to encourage development that is in character, scale and size with existing historic patterns--should be enforced," said Jones, who is chair of Stand Up for Flagstaff. "When carefully written and approved regulations are not correctly interpreted, it is confusing and costly to both developers and citizens."
According to the approval document from staff, Core is being required to pay one half of the estimated cost to construct a traffic light at the intersection of San Francisco Street and Franklin Avenue. The total cost of the light hasn’t been determined yet.
Core will also have to pay one half of the cost to improve the pedestrian crossing at Butler Avenue. Staff estimate that the number of pedestrians crossing Butler Avenue at Humphreys Street, at peak hour, will increase by 100 percent by 2017.