Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Hill Place student-apartment plan passes

The Morning News

Local News for Northwest Arkansas

Student Housing Gets Green Light From City Council

By Christopher Spencer
The Morning
FAYETTEVILLE - A student housing complex planned for south Fayetteville received approval Tuesday from the City Council.

Approval comes despite vocal opposition by some neighbors and months of discussion by city officials about whether or not the 288-unit development is compatible with the area.

The $50 million development sits less a quarter-mile from the University of Arkansas and employees of Place Properties, which will manage the Hill Place complex, intend to market to students.

"I believe the positives outweigh the negatives," said Ward 1 Council Member Brenda Thiel. Approval was opposed by two city council members, Lioneld Jordan and Nancy Allen.

Some residents said they were concerned that the development could create flooding in other areas of the neighborhood.

The Hill Place complex is planned on 13 acres off Hill Avenue and Sixth Street, on the site of the former Aspen Ridge project that was abandoned in 2006. The site has been in one form of development or another for at least four years.

City planner Jeremy Pate said 37 conditions were attached to the project before city staff felt it would be compatible.

Allen said she opposed the development because, after Aspen Ridge was abandoned, city leaders have a special obligation to protect the neighborhood. She said she wondered what other city residents thought about the land being used as a "dormitory" for students.

The site was cleared of most of its trees before the Aspen Ridge project was abandoned. Hill Place will use much of the existing improvement and will make changes to address stream quality and runoff concerns, said Todd Jacobs, the project engineer, at a council meeting last month.

The management company rents rooms centered around common areas shared by residents. Community advisers, similar to resident advisers in a university dorm, will live in the complex to oversee it.

The city council also denied an appeal by the developer of Bridgedale Plaza to have the land where it would be located rezoned. The development was proposed as a mixed-use development off Huntsville Road in southeast Fayetteville. The 16-acre site would combine commercial space, duplexes, houses and a storage facility.

Planners supported all aspects of the project except the storage, Pate said.

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