Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – A couple of large housing projects – one for students, the other for seniors and others – have reached the stage of environmental review and imminent Arcata Planning Commission hearings.
The Environmental Impact Report for The Village, a large new student housing complex first announced in April, is now online at cityofarcata.org. Public comments are being accepted through Dec. 15. Arcata’s Planning Commission will consider the proposed development at its Nov. 28 meeting.
Proposed by Agoura Hills-based AMCAL Equities LLC, and its development partner, Coleraine Capital Group, the project was introduced at a community meeting Wednesday, April 12. Humboldt State is not affiliated with the developers, but is coordinating with them on the project.
The Village includes four 4-story buildings 50 feet in height. Inside are 240 student apartments containing 800 beds. On-site management will be present 24/7, with employees and resident assistants in each building.
On site amenities include a computer lab, study and project rooms, a fitness center, Internet café, game room, flat-screen televisions, movie theater and outdoor recreation courts.
The project would be sited at the present location of Arcata’s Craftsman’s Mall on St. Louis Road. The present mall and its many motley buildings, owned by Nancy Yagi-Kirkpatrick, will have to be torn down to make room for it. Seven parcels will be merged to create the project’s 11-acre footprint.
The project faces U.S. Highway 101 to the east, and residential Maple Lane to the west. Eye Street to the south would serve as a gated emergency access route.
The Planco will consider the project’s landscaping and parking, plus amendments to the General Plan and zoning maps. Zoning will be changed from Industrial Limited to Residential High-Density, with the addition of a Planned Development overlay to accommodate the 50-foot buildings’ towering beyond the nominal 35-foot height.
Some 369 parking spots will circle the complex, 20 reserved for clean air vehicles – electrics and plug-in hybrids – with 12 spots featuring EV charging stations. There will be 20 motorcycle parking spaces.
Each of the four buildings will feature 80 bicycle parking spaces, 320 total. There will be 185 covered outdoor bicycle parking spaces, for a total of 505 bicycle parking spaces.
A new Arcata & Mad River Transit bus stop will be located at the northwest corner. A 675-foot section of the Arcata Rail with Trail will serve the eastern side of the project. A 500-foot trail along the north side trail will connect to the city-owned Janes Creek Meadows Open Space Area with access to Maple Lane.
Many have lamented the passing of the Craftman’s Mall, once a thriving community of shops including artisans and craftspeople. Neighbors are concerned about a range of possible impacts from The Village, including traffic, drainage, noise, lighting and privacy.
Westwood Village residents, and those on Maple Lane in particular are worried about new, taller buildings looming over them.
The new structures, while taller and with a wider west-facing side, will be set farther back from the street. Story poles have been erected to indicate the new buildings’ proximity to Maple Lane, and are visible over the rooftops of homes on that street.
The public comment period is open through Dec. 15. The EIR is available at Arcata City Hall, 736 F St., Arcata Branch Library, 500 Seventh St, Humboldt State University Library Humboldt Room, and at cityofarcata.org.
The EIR for a different project, Danco Communities’ Creekside Homes (formerly referred to as Creek Side Homes) is undergoing administrative review at City Hall. The document may be released to the public as soon as early December, and the project will also be reviewed by the Planco.
Over the years, Danco has proposed several different housing projects for the former site of the former Eel River Sawmill, located at 2000 Foster Avenue west of Janes Creek and southwest of Westwood Village and Wyatt Lane on the Arcata Bottom. None have been approved.
According to the project description, the current Creekside Homes involves annexation, rezoning and subdivision for a residential and assisted living development for about 287 residents. The project includes 32 single-family residential units and 32 second units, an assisted living and memory care facility with 100 units, 25 pocket neighborhood cottage units, a preserve and open space along Janes Creek, pedestrian/bicycle trails, and the development and dedication of public infrastructure.
The City of Arcata has previously rejected annexation for an earlier version of Creek Side Homes based on an economic study. In 2009, Danco attempted to override the city’s will by appealing for annexation directly to the Local Agency Formation Commission (LAFCO), but the bid was rejected.