The developer whose proposed project at 7th and Robinson was rejected by Uptown planners and Hillcrest residents in April won the group's support Tuesday night by returning with compromises.
"We heard you," said Jim Ivory of Greystar, a national development and property management company that's developing the Hillcrest 111 project. "We really do want to be part of the neighborhood."
In April, the planning group asked Greystar for four changes to the 92-foot tall building; they asked for the addition of solar energy and more parking spaces, for the building to be set back from the sidewalk, and for a design that included step-backs, where each higher floor gets smaller. The step-backs would allow the outside of the building to resemble a staircase — reducing the crowding feel on the street and blending in better with the much shorter homes and buildings around it. The tallest building within a block of the project is four stories tall.
At the April meeting, the planning group voted 9-5, with one recused panelist, to appeal the project if it didn't meet the proposed changes.
The project was expected to be approved by the city regardless of the planning group's decisions, but all agree that an appeal — and the legal action neighbors promised would follow — would cause delays in getting it built, even with the city approval.
"We can give you a 10-foot step-back along Robinson......we commit to solar. We're going to heat our water with solar."
Ivory confirmed that nine of the building's 111 units will still be for low-income households, which frees the developer of parking requirements. But, he said, the design calls for 190 parking spaces — already more than required. His designers couldn't find a way to add more.
The step-back will happen once, at the third floor.
Before voting 11-3 to approve the project and rescind their appeal, many of the planners and some residents applauded the developer for making the compromises and for returning to the advisory panel though they didn't have to.
"This is the kind of new development we need," said Ben Nichols, executive director of the Hillcrest Business Improvement District. "It will help us with our customer base and it fits the new community plan."
But foes of the project, including some immediate neighbors, remained opposed.
"I find it hard to believe the city will allow a 92-foot building on a two-lane road," said Ann Garwood. "It is right across from a one-story house that's been there for a 100 years — you're going up 70 feet higher than what's already on that corner."