A deeply divided Uptown Planners voted 9-5 to appeal its approval of an 111-unit, 92-foot tall project at Seventh and Robinson if the developers fail to incorporate the group's suggestions in the building design.
The group had asked for a setback and step-back from Robinson, for developers to install solar energy and for additional parking for visitors. "There's a lot of built-up angst in this community and you're seeing it," said group member Michael Brennan, who voted against the appeal. "This is almost a stick in their eye..... This will accomplish nothing but delay the project and the housing we need."
But angry neighbors of the project, who say they didn't find out about the nine-story building coming to their two-story neighborhood until recently, applauded the vote to appeal. "People are outraged over this inappropriate development in our neighborhood," said neighbor Ann Garwood. "We raised $15,000 in two hours (to look at legal action against the project). That's a pretty strong message."
The project, called Hillcrest 111, makes use of development incentives that allow bigger projects and less parking in exchange for affordable housing. It will include nine units specifically for very low income people, according to Jim Ivory of Greystar, a nationwide property development and management company that is developing Hillcrest 111.
Ivory pointed out that, though the project is allowed to provide less parking because of its affordable housing and other elements, it includes 190 spaces. The planners' design review committee had approved the project.
The goal of the appeal is to get the developer to pull the building face back from the sidewalk and to have it 'step-back,' which means cutting space off each floor as the building climbs so it looks like stairs, softening the front face.
"It's going to go straight up 92 feet from the sidewalk," said Tom Mullaney, who presented the appeal to the group. "I want this decided at a public hearing."
Greystar looked at the group's suggestions but found they couldn't make them work, Ivory said. The setbacks and step-backs would cut the building capacity so that they'd have to eliminate the planned affordable housing, he said.
And the company has already created more parking spaces than the city requires. The solar installation is still under consideration, he said.
The vote means the group has 12 days to file an appeal — its only chance to appeal the project. A man in the audience chided the group over its vote. "Sometimes this group forgets it is an advisory group," he said. "They're not ignoring you, they think you are wrong."