Mansfield continues to attract apartments even though many residents and some City Council members hate them.
Councilman Terry Moore warned that allowing yet another apartment complex would set social media "on fire." He wants more owner-occupied homes.
"There’s significant need in this community for brownstones, townhomes, zero-lot-line homes," Moore said. "Our population in this community is aging to the point that there’s a significant bubble of empty nesters."
The trend of mingling apartments with retail, restaurants and offices is fairly new for the Southeast Tarrant County suburb--it’s more common in urban areas.
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The first example was the Villas di Lucca complex on Debbie Lane where Fuzzy’s and other retail have moved in on the ground floor. Another will be the Shops at Broad mixed-use project under construction at East Broad Street and U.S. 287.
Developers like Scott Polikov, president of Gateway Planning, said traditional retail with big boxes and a sea of parking is dying, thanks to e-commerce.
What retailers want is guaranteed foot traffic that a mixed-use project with hundreds of apartments can provide, Polikov said. He’s proposing to build a 46-acre project with multi-family, single-family detached and attached housing within walking distance of a grocery store and other retail. The controversial plan is proposed at the junction of U.S. 287 and South Main Street in southern Mansfield.
Some first floor apartments could also have office space to provide a true live, work and play environment.
Polikov originally proposed 400 apartments but has reduced it to 275 units after facing criticism from the council last month. It will still be four stories.
"In our experience, the sweet spot is about 300 in terms of high quality apartment developers," he said. "We actually created a grid street pattern, pocket parks and green spaces."
The third and final vote on the project is set for Sept. 25.
Moore voted against the zoning change at the Sept. 11 meeting but Mayor David Cook and Councilmen Darryl Haynes and Larry Broseh also voiced concerns over the details of the project.
"You know that we don’t like apartments," Haynes said.
Haynes mentioned other new apartment complexes in Mansfield and urged Polikov to make the new ones up to the same standard.
The new Main Street Lofts on North Main Street and Newt Patterson Road start at $1,000 a month, or $1.40 per square foot for a one-bedroom unit. The largest three bedroom costs $2,075 per month for 1,407 square feet, or $1.47 per square foot.
Councilman Cory Hoffman supports the project and said some apartments are getting even higher rents, which shows the strong demand in Mansfield.
"Virtually every unit is sold out or occupied," Hoffman said. "To say someone paying $1,500 a month for a 1,000-square-foot apartment doesn’t have any ownership? That’s a significant amount of money and quite frankly that’s more than most people’s mortgage payments."
Jolene Bargsley, a real estate agent and president of the Remington Ranch homeowners association, said the retail and restaurant component is much needed on that south side of Mansfield.
"It’s going to be saturated with single-family homes with no place to eat, no place to shop," she said. "This also brings new jobs to our area where teenagers can work."
Comments on the Mansfield Parents for Reasonable Change Facebook page are strongly against adding more apartments to the city.
"There are enough apartments in this city," said Derrick Turner, a Mansfield resident. "We need more businesses to help spread out the tax burden. Homeowners are getting a raw deal."
Lance Irwin said renters aren’t invested in the city.
"You’re paying someone else’s investment off with nothing to show for it down the road," Irwin said. "People are paying more in rent than a mortgage with many of these projects. Wouldn’t it be great if a developer built smaller homes versus McMansions and apartments so that people were able to get in on a starter home and be invested?"