Flagstaff City Council will be reviewing a newly proposed student centered housing development planned for a piece of land at the southwest intersection of Lone Tree Road and J.W. Powell Boulevard at the Jan. 29 meeting.
The development, by the Austin, Texas based Campus Advantage, is planned for a 15.14-acre undeveloped parcel of land that is currently owned by Pine Canyon.
The development would consist of a 196-unit development split into a dozen or so buildings and totaling 702 beds, according to documents provided by the city.
In all, the buildings would total about 338,521-square feet, with heights ranging from two, three and four stories.
The development would also include a clubhouse, study rooms, a fitness center, a dog park, a network of trails and pool.
At the moment, although being focused at students, Campus Advantage is planning on renting by the unit. However, the project summery states they may seek city approval to rent by the bed in the future.
The development has proven controversial with residents of the neighboring development, Pinnacle Pines, which borders the undeveloped land.
“Never in my wildest imagination would I ever think there would be a student housing facility planned here, the location just wouldn’t make sense,” said Michael Pilcher, one resident of Pinnacle Pines.
Pilcher said one of his concerns is about the number of vehicles will park on his street if the development goes forward.
This is because, although the development meets the city’s parking standards, there are 541 parking spaces planned to service the 702 beds.
But given the development's location, Pilcher said he believes most residents will need to use vehicles to go almost anywhere, with the nearest classrooms at Northern Arizona University being about one and a third miles away.
“The nearest grocery store is Whole Foods, over two miles away. The nearest restaurant, two miles away,” Pilcher said. “At least at other [student housing developments] like the Hub, the kids can at least walk to school, they can walk to the grocery store; they can’t walk anywhere here, everything will require a vehicle trip.”
And if the residents of the new development fill up their own parking lots, Pilcher said they will likely begin to park in the narrow streets of Pinnacle Pines which could lead to safety concerns.
Mary Norton, another resident of the Pinnacle Pines Neighborhood agreed.
“From the start, parking has been our number one concern,” Norton said. “Their lack of parking will inevitably flow into our private streets.”
Other residents of Pinnacle Pines worry students in search of parking will also quickly fill up a nearby parking lot meant to service sections of the Flagstaff Urban Trail System.
Campus Advantage said they could not comment, but some of the concerns are touched on by the development summery.
“The property is well situated for both Northern Arizona University and Coconino Community College students that utilize transit,” the project summery states. “Lone Tree provides direct access to both campuses for bikers and walkers; to supplement access to both CCC and NAU, Campus Advantage is currently evaluating inclusion of shuttle bus/van or other services to support student access to school as well as shopping and services in central Flagstaff to reduce automotive trips as well.”
Pilcher said even if the issues of parking are fixed, he would prefer to see some other kind of development in the area. Pilcher said, having lived at Pinnacle Pines since 2007, he has always known Pine Canyon would likely develop the land.
Pilcher added he personally would be happier if, instead of purely student housing, the developer was looking to build a different kind of development such as apartments for families, condominiums or affordable housing.
And now, he and other residents may get a chance to make their concerns known to city council as the development is scheduled for discussion at the next meeting.
The parcel is zoned for high-density residential, so the planned development fits as an approved use. But staff say the development will still need to go before council because it does not fit with the development plans the city agreed to with Pine Canyon.
Representatives with Pine Canyon did not return requests for comment, but city planning development manager Alaxandra Pucciarelli said the issues originate in a development agreement between Pine Canyon and the city that was signed in 2000.
That plan describes a somewhat different development than the one planned by Campus Advantage.
“The concept plan on file identifies that Tract 22, which is the site of the currently proposed development, consists of 210 multi-family residential units,” Pucciarelli said via email.
The plan also refers to the multi-family development as condominiums at various points.
“The only difference between a condominium project and a multi-family project is ownership, not use or building form,” Pucciarelli said. “This parcel was intended to have a multi-family project/development, the question is whether the development must be subdivided through a condominium plat.”
Tuesday however, council could allow an amendment to the agreement to allow Campus Advantage to rent units traditionally without treating them as condominiums.