A six-story mid-rise apartment proposal, adjacent to three cemeteries in Uptown, made its way out of the City Plan Commission, more or less intact despite some push back from the living.
The developer, Mill Creek Residential, is proposing a 205-unit complex with a height of 85 feet and a parking garage that would be completely underground. The architectural style would be urban brownstone with 100 percent masonry.
The site is very small, just 1.17 acres on land east of Howell Street where it intersects with North Hall Street.
The commission on Thursday recommended approval on two conditions–that the maximum number of units be 190, and that all ground level units facing Howell Street have separate stoop stair entrances.
Project managing director Rick Perdue of Mill Creek Residential Trust LLC did not indicate after the meeting whether the company would agree to the 190 unit cap, emphasizing that was the Plan Commission’s recommendation. The development application has not yet been scheduled to be heard by City Council.
Perdue said it was too early to estimate a range of apartment sizes, although a median apartment square footage mentioned to commissioners was in the mid 400s.
The site abuts the Calvary, Emanuel and Greenwood cemeteries on its southwest and southeast borders. Neighboring residents and even some commissioners expressed dismay with the concept as being too imposing next to such a revered place.
During the Plan Commission’s Thursday hearing, townhome residents of the Howell Park Homeowners Association objected to the density and insisted on a 150-unit limit. They also objected to the developer’s request for a setback variance of 15 feet from the curb on Howell, where the development faces the townhome community, instead of the required 25 feet.
Mill Creek’s land use attorney, Jonathan Vinson of Jackson Walker, recalled that another developer tried and failed to get a high-rise with 239 units built on the site.
Vinson and Perdue argued that putting the garage underground was a concession that added considerable cost to the project. Other concessions included Mill Creek’s agreement to provide a streetscape above what was required; this includes 6-foot-wide sidewalks, and mature trees planted every 40 feet instead of 60 feet.
Responding to neighborhood input that the ingress-egress for parking and maintenance loading not be on Hall or Howell, the developer also agreed to construct a side street on Marie Street, which at present is just an unpaved alley that opens to Hall.
In an effort to meet residents halfway on the setback requirement, Perdue said the building where it faces Howell would be designed to rise only 36 feet from a 15-foot setback, then be recessed 10 feet before rising the remaining 49 feet to its full height. He argued the 15-foot setback at ground level combined with the tiered 10-foot setback from the lower roof amounted to a 25-foot setback.
Mill Creek also requested a smaller courtyard than what is required for a multi-family dwelling of this scale–3,500 square feet instead of 7,225 square feet.
The application passed with five nay votes and the most memorable quote coming from District 4 Commissioner Jarred Davis, who along with his no vote said, “It’s like putting a catfish in a sardine can.”
Mill Creek Residential is a Dallas-based national developer of multifamily communities. Mill Creek constructed and manages the Modera Uptown at 3030 Elizabeth Street, which in scale is a very similar project–a 179-unit, six-story podium community. However, based on Perdue’s description, the look of the project on Howell will probably be more like a podium style apartment community Mill Creek did in Mineola, New York; Perdue said architectural renderings of the new Uptown project were not available.