After months of back and forth debate, the Arlington City Council gave developers the go-ahead to build one of the biggest student apartment complexes in the city.
The complex, Arlington Lofts, will replace the 45-year-old, 120-unit Catalina Apartments one block north of the University of Texas at Arlington.
The council voted 6-3 in favor of a scaled-back design late Tuesday night. Council members Charlie Parker, Robert Rivera and Kathryn Wilemon voted no.
Construction will begin in August and is scheduled for completion by August 2016, said Lance Hanna, development representative with Greystar Student Living.
Arlington Lofts at 815 W. Abram St. will have 169 units, with four 1-bedroom units, 48 two-bedroom units, 19 three-bedroom units, and 98 four-bedroom units for a total of 549 bedrooms. The four-story complex will be larger than the nearby Midtown Urban Student Living and Campus Edge apartments on UTA Boulevard.
In size, Arlington Lofts will be second only to the recently approved Sapphire Inspired Living’s four-story complex on South Center Street.
A three-level parking garage will provide 475 parking spaces. The fully furnished apartments will feature full kitchens, individual bathrooms and a pool, fitness center, cyber cafe and courtyard, Hanna said.
In August, the council rejected Greystar Student Living’s plan for a 231-unit complex with a seven-level parking garage. The developer was given the option to scale the project back.
The new plan represents a 25 percent reduction in density and 57 percent reduction in garage height. Hanna said he expected the development to stimulate $2 million in local business and consumer spending.
The complex now on the 4.2-acre site is valued at $2.5 million. Hanna said Arlington Lofts is expected to be valued at $31.5 million.
Parker expressed concerns about the location of the property, and said it would have been better suited on UTA Boulevard between Midtown and Campus Edge student apartments.
“My problem is the fact that Greystar came in and took the low hanging fruit of the first apartment complex that would encompass the area they need,” Parker said.
Voices for and against
Six speakers spoke in favor the apartments, including Tony Rutigliano of Downtown Arlington Management Corp.; Lt. W. Patrick Jones of the Salvation Army; and retired journalist O.K. Carter, a Tarrant County College trustee.
“Arlington is right in the middle of the Metroplex, and we need a great downtown not 30 years from now, but five or 10 years from now,” said business owner Rick Merritt. “Let us not put roadblocks and delays on potential developers.”
Five speakers voiced opposition, including resident Molly Hansen.
“All these people that are talking [in favor] don’t own property on Abram Street, and I do,” Hansen said. “We don’t need to have 600 students living on the wrong side of the street who have to cross it every morning.”
Councilwoman Lana Wolff made the motion to approve the plan, citing the age and deterioration of the existing complex.
“None of us spend our time and effort to sit up here and make easy decisions,” she said.
Greystar operates 14 student housing communities at U.S. universities.