The Village starts shrinking as new housing group creates alternative plans

DESIGN ALTERNATIVES Following criticism of what some considered a cookie-cutter design, proponents of The Village student housing project offered three alternatives for the Planning Commission to consider. Top, a “farmhouse” design with shed and gable elements invoking a sense of “rural living.” Middle, a “contemporary Craftsman” design, with mixed materials and a residential style. Bottom, a “coast style” treatment also offering a residential feel. The revised project design also eliminates a floor from the two buildings facing Maple Lane, bringing them down to three stories From cityofarcata.com

Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union

ARCATA – In its seventh hearing on The Village student housing complex, Arcata’s Planning Commission got into the weeds – or at least the landscaping and other minute details – of the proposed project. The Planco spent considerable time on Design Review, with the project’s finalized Environmental Impact Report expected to be complete by the next meeting.

The development, which would be located at the site of the Craftsman’s Mall, appears to be steadily marching toward Planco approval. Should that occur, the City Council would next take up the project and make a final decision.

By way of appeasing critics, project proponents presented commissioners with some new alternatives. Three different façade designs were offered, and one story was removed from the two westernmost of the project’s four structures. That in response to strong criticism of the mammoth project’s bulk by residents of Maple Lane, which lies to the west and below The Village.

The downsizing would reduce the student population from a nominal 800 to 700, but would not affect the project’s four-building footprint or the number of parking spaces.

Meanwhile, a well-organized opposition group known as Arcata Citizens for Responsible Housing (ACRH) is creating an alternative housing plan for the Craftsman's Mall site.

ACRH, a newly registered non-profit, says it supports infill and high-density student housing, but opposes The Village. Its alternative plan will be developed by Arcata planning firm Greenway Partners. A public design charette is set for Thursday, March 8, at a location to be announced.

ACRH has been soliciting members from the Westwood Village neighborhood via Facebook. Associate membership applications and other material is available at the group’s website, arcatacrh.org.

Representatives of the group addressed the Planco, scolding city staff for allegedly advocating for The Village. The ACRH reps claimed the project is widely disliked by the public.

Boardmember John Begenske summarized the group’s stance on The Village as “too much, too soon and not well enough thought out.”

The Village will again be considered by the Planco at its Feb. 27 and March 13 meetings.

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