Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – The Village student housing project, rejected by default by a deadlocked City Council last August, is back, and it’s different this time.
The new Village plan, unveiled last week during an open house at City Hall, includes both student housing and apartments suitable for families available for rental on the open market. View the meeting here.
The City Council is to decide tonight whether to proceed with consideration of the project. City staff considers the new plan a continuation of the previous project, with a new Environmental Impact Report not warranted by the changes.
The Planning Commission, which was also tied on the project, won’t revisit it except to consider the abandonment of part of St. Louis Road to become part of the site plan.
Along with the new housing mix, another big difference from the old project is the lack of any involvement from Humboldt State University. HSU had previously agreed to manage the students housing and provide increased police protection.
Also deleted from the new plan is the retail food shop that was part of the last proposal.
Features carried over from the previous proposal include property tax and fire fee assurance, as it is a private development; sidewalk infill in Todd Court and on Eye Street; and trail access.
As proposed, the revised project features 115 units of student housing with 423 total beds, located on the eastern side of the 11.2 acre Craftsmans Mall property, and 125 open-market apartments on the west side. Parking has been increased from 409 to 449 spaces.
The building design is the most conservative of the previously reviewed options, a relatively plain “farmhouse” style.
Developer David Moon of Coleraine Capital Group said at last week’s open house that the housing mix was diversified in response to the City Council’s concerns. “Now I’m proud to say it’s a village,” Moon said.
Initial concerns voiced by attendees included the project’s potential population, which is more than the previous 602 residents but smaller than the initial Village proposal of 800 students. (See photos of comments offered by attendees below.)
Also mentioned were the expanded parking capacity, the possibility that too many amenities would keep student residents from leaving the site, neighborhood compatibility, plus traffic, safety, inclusivity and the size of the student housing buildings.
“Maybe it should be all student housing,” suggested one attendee.
Moon declined to put a cost on the overall project. He said a contractor would be hired to build it, and that company would likely hire local subcontractors.
The Arcata Citizens for Responsible Housing group which opposed the previous versions of the Village had not announced any formal stance on the project as of Monday morning.
The council’s options, as recommended in a staff report, include review of the project and public comments, directing staff to finalize planning documents and schedule hearings, to adopt a resolution vacating part of St. Louis Road, or to drop the matter entirely.
The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in Council Chamber, 736 F St.