Kevin L. Hoover
Mad River Union
ARCATA – The Village student housing project is back. The revised project is physically much the same as the version which failed approval by the City Council last August, but meets a key demand for mixed housing voiced by its council skeptics. However, it loses some other features which had been requested by members of the community and council which had been added to the last version.
City staff will host a meeting to share project changes, receive stakeholder insights and discuss the process for reconsideration of the project on Wednesday, Jan. 30 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in City Council Chamber, 736 F St. Following a presentation of the revised Village Housing Project proposal, attendees may ask questions and share ideas and concerns in working groups facilitated by City staff. The project applicant will be present to answer questions.
Project revisions and community discussion from this meeting will be conveyed to City Council at its regularly scheduled meeting on Wednesday, February 6, where it will hear public comment and decide whether to re-initiate consideration of the revised project. If it decides to do so, it will discuss the matter further in subsequent meetings.
Detailed plans for The Village 2019 aren't yet available, but are expected soon from applicant Coleraine Capital Group.
The last version of the project was doomed in its initial forms by split votes on the Planning Commission and finally, after several revisions, by the City Council. Councilmembers objected to the student-only nature of the housing, its impacts on adjacent neighborhoods and some design elements.
The new Village retains a similar design and footprint with some modifications, according to Community Development Director David Loya. Four-story, student-only towers would face the east side of the 11-acre Craftsmans Mall property. Two-story apartment buildings would be sited on the side of the property bordering Maple Lane, as before, but would include rental units available on the open market.
The overall population of the project would be "roughly" the same as the 602 (previously 800) planned for the previous project, Loya said, but the number of individuals who would reside in the open-market apartments can't be exactly known.
Loya said that since the project is substantially unchanged, its Environmental Impact Report need not be redone, and the project wouldn't again be processed through the Planning Commission. It would require reconsideration by the City Council, since a zoning change from Light Industrial to Residential designation is needed. The Planco would consider the city's abandonment of a portion of St. Louis Road for consistency with the General Plan.
Retained as features of the new project are its trail connectivity with Humboldt State, the absorption of part of St. Louis Road, and financial offsets to help pay for improvements to the city's wastewater treatment plant and for revision of the intersection of L.K Wood Boulevard, Sunset Avenue and U.S. Highway 101.
Gone from the new version are the retail grocery store, onsite Humboldt State management and dedicated HSU Police coverage, though HSU Police would still provide assistance to Arcata Police via an existing mutual aid agreement. As a private development, the project would still pay local taxes and fire fees.