Mansfield News-Mirror

East Mansfield could gain 295 apartments. But is it too many? ‘The density scares me’

Open prairies stretch as far as the eye can see on the Lockwood properties in east Mansfield, where large hay bales mark the changing of the seasons and a barbed wire fence separates ranch land from the hustle of suburbia.

Now, a proposal for hundreds of apartments aims to change this stretch of East Broad Street west of Matlock Road where time has stood still for decades.

Called Urban Living phase 1, the proposal will have 295 apartments with 126, or 42 percent, of them being efficiency units with a minimum square footage of 600 square feet. The plan also includes 75 one-bedroom units with a minimum square footage of 750 square feet and 94 two-bedroom units with a minimum of 950 square feet.

The apartments will be on 8.3 acres on the south side of East Broad Street between Matlock and Cannon drives. Amenities will include a resort-style pool, a beer garden, co-working spaces, a fitness center and dog walking area, said Clay Roby, a partner with Stillwater Capital, the company developing the project.

The project will also feature 2.5 acres of commercial land that Roby said is getting interest from restaurants, early childhood education centers, banks and other retail users.

Two new city streets will be built through the development to provide access to the apartments and future phases.

The project is part of Stillwater Capital’s larger plan to develop the entire Lockwood property with a mix of more multi-family, commercial and office. The project is located within The Reserve, an exclusive area governed by a master plan located generally south of East Broad Street and bounded by U.S. 287 and Texas 360.

“We do know that the developer has a plan for what they intend to do for the balance of the project,” deputy city manager Joe Smolinski said. “They want to talk to the City Council about how this piece fits into the larger project itself and give the council an idea of what their vision is for the portion of The Reserve that they intend to develop.”

Stillwater Capital is seeking a specific use permit to build the apartments in the Workplace subdistrict within The Reserve, where a certain number of apartments are already permitted based on the zoning approved by the City Council.

Urban Living got a lukewarm reception from the Planning and Zoning Commission on Sept. 16. A recommendation was made to approve the project but it failed 3-4 with commissioners Tamera Bounds, Robert Klenzendorf, Anne Wedeck and Wayne Wilshire voting no.

The specific use permit for the apartments goes to the City Council on Oct. 14 for one vote.

Mansfield resident Houston Mitchell told commissioners the city has enough apartments already, including several hundred new units approved on North Main Street recently.

“I don’t think we need any more. Not at this time,” Mitchell told the council. “I was told that we have land that is already zoned for 5,000 apartments.”

Neighborhoods around nearby Willie Brown Elementary School rallied against apartments that were planned within the Shops at Broad project several years ago and could protest this complex, too. The 300-unit apartment complex planned within the Shops at Broad hasn’t started construction and there’s been “absolutely no movement” on that, Smolinski said.

Mansfield resident Scot Bowman said this isn’t the right project for that area.

“There is a lot of concern about apartments,” Bowman said. “I am concerned for the school with 35 units per acre. The density scares me. That’s a lot of people.”

Unlike other recent apartments like The Lofts on Main Street and the recently approved Watson Branch, there are no trail connections to make this area walkable. He’d like to see a connection to the Walnut Creek Linear Park, which will go along Cannon Drive and north on Matlock Road in the future.

“It’s nearby but it’s not connected and it decreases the walkability of it,” Bowman said.

Also, he said this is prime land that has potential for mixed-use or more commercial development rather than just apartments.

“Not making it mixed use from the beginning is a huge loss of an opportunity in my opinion,” Bowman said.

Several commissioners questioned city staff about the need for new apartments.

“It would support people who want to work in the area as well as people who choose to live in a multi-family development,” Smolinski said.

Of the 5,000 apartments zoned in the city, about 1,000 are in The Reserve.

Commissioners asked what the city’s goal as far as number of apartments.

“We don’t have a goal for multi-family in the city,” interim city planner Lisa Sudbury said.

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