Scaled-down Arlington Lofts complex heads back to City Council

Posted Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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A proposed student housing apartment complex previously rejected by the City Council received a second chance Wednesday when the Planning and Zoning Commission unanimously recommended approval of a scaled-back design with fewer beds.

In August, the City Council voted 6-3 to deny Greystar Student Living’s plans for the four-story Arlington Lofts at 815 W. Abram St., which was designed to serve up to 692 students at the nearby University of Texas at Arlington.

Council members said the complex was too big for its proposed downtown location.

The developer came back with a revised plan with nearly 100 fewer beds.

“The density was a concern. The massing was a concern. We heard that,” said Lance Hanna, Greystar’s managing director of development for student living.

The original proposal called for a mix of 231 one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom units. The new proposal is about 25 percent smaller, calling for only 169 units. The complex’s parking garage would also be three stories instead of seven stories, Hanna said.

Greystar operates 14 student housing communities at U.S. universities and is seeking to open Arlington Lofts by August 2015 for the start of UT Arlington’s fall semester, Hanna said.

The fully furnished units would have full kitchens, bathrooms for each bedroom and amenities that college students have told the developer they want, including a resort-style pool, fitness center, cyber cafe and a courtyard with quiet areas for study, Hanna has said.

Five residents spoke in opposition at Wednesday’s Planning and Zoning public hearing, raising concerns about the size of the complex, the safety of the students crossing busy Abram Street to get to campus and about how the modern-looking building would clash with neighboring historic homes that have been converted to offices and businesses.

“We are worried a lot about all these kids. They all at one point or another have to cross Abram, once or twice a day,” said Abram Street property owner Molly Hansen. “I just think people are going to be really mad at how often they are going to have to stop when they were just at a busy light at Cooper and Abram … because there are a whole bunch of kids that have to cross.”

To improve pedestrian safety, the developer plans to add flashing crosswalk beacons to help students cross at West Abram and Monroe streets.

Greystar also plans to upgrade the area’s water and sewer lines and move some of the utilities underground to improve the downtown corridor’s appearance, Hanna said.

Those in opposition also said the complex did not appear to have been significantly reduced in size.

“This was turned down by the City Council,” resident Richard Weber said. “This hasn’t changed that much. Y’all need to have a backbone and say, ‘No, it is not good for Arlington’.”

UT Arlington, the Salvation Army and Downtown Arlington Management Corporation have voiced support for the Arlington Lofts. The Arlington school district wrote a letter in opposition.

The City Council is set to hear the case Nov. 5. The development, if approved, would replace the two-story, 120-unit Catalina Apartments, built in 1969.

The current complex on the 4.2-acre site is valued at $2.5 million. Arlington Lofts is expected to be valued at $31.5 million, Hanna said. The developer will be seeking financial incentives from the city for the project, Hanna has said.

At the Aug. 20 meeting, Mayor Robert Cluck and council members Lana Wolff and Michael Glaspie voted in favor of the project. Council members Sheri Capehart, Charlie Parker, Robert Rivera, Kathryn Wilemon, Robert Shepard and Jimmy Bennett voted in opposition.

This report includes material from Star-Telegram archives.

Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock

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