Planners back three residential projects

Mar. 03, 2013 @ 07:53 PM

The city’s Planning & Zoning Commision recently gave its blessing to cases that could clear the way for the expansion of an apartment complex and subdivision and boost the revitalization efforts of a key benefactor of a core city area.

The commission gave a favorable recommendation to a requested zoning classification change that would allow construction of single-family homes in the Cambridge Oaks subdivision along Renaissance Lane. The change would make single-family detached homes a development option on 13.6 acres, where only townhomes or “twin homes” are currently permitted.
The applicant is Cambridge Oaks LLC, which represents the developer of the project and some of the owners of the townhomes in the subdivision, said Judy Stalder of Allen Tate Realtors.
Stalder said single-family home sales have been much stronger than townhome sales, “so we’re asking (the commission) for the flexibility to take advantage of this uptick in sales of single-family homes and get this subdivision built out so that property values will remain stable. The developer here has demonstrated that he can build high-quality development with both single-family homes and townhomes in it. The developers and the Realtors have demonstrated that, with their marketing and sales techniques, they can protect and preserve the property values in this subdivision.”
The request will go before the City Council March 18.
Also winning the commission’s endorsement was a request by Patrick Harman of the Hayden-Harman Foundation to amend the development ordinance to allow him to subdivide a Hobson Street lot that contains three houses that were seized as part of a police crackdown on open-air drug markets in the Washington Street neighborhood.
Harman bought the houses in 2011 for $5,000 each. He said he didn’t realize at the time they were all on one piece of property. He said the foundation has invested about $600,000 in the neighborhood since 2009, rehabilitating three commercial buildings, two houses and funding various smaller home repairs.
“Our ultimate goal is to get to 50 percent home ownership rate in the neighborhood. We’re about 20 percent now, so we’ve got a long way to go. These three houses were our first foray into increasing home ownership. The key thing about home owners is, they stay three times longer than renters and they’re more likely to be involved in their neighborhood,” said Harman. “It’s just kind of sweet justice to turn these things around from drug dens to nice homes that are owned by families.”
He said repairs on one house are finished while exterior work is done on the other two. 
Commission members said they wanted to do all they can to support revitalization efforts in the neighborhood and gave a favorable recommendation to Harman’s request, which will be heard by the council tonight.
The third case was a request from Blue Ridge Companies to add 4.45 acres to an existing development to allow for an expansion of the Palladium Park Apartment community. There are currently 216 units in the complex and the company is seeking to construct 96 new apartments. Its request was given a favorable recommendation by the commission, with the case slated to go before council March 18. | 888-3531