Ballot reveals residents don't want hundreds of vehicles added to neighborhood streets.
Although CHPNA is still tabulating ballots from its recent survey, early results clearly show the vast majority of residents oppose re-zoning a 15 acre vacant lot on Jones-Maltsberger which would allow a large apartment complex to be built. The development would sit on the border of Crownhill Park and significantly increase existing traffic problems.
Developer flip-flops on affordable housing.
Trammel Crow Corporation, which seeks to build the complex of 13 buildings containing 351 apartments, initially told Crownhill Park's Councilperson Mario Bravo, that up to 50% of the units would be offered significantly below market rate. This was welcome news to Courage who is an advocate for more affordable housing. But then in mid-February the developer announced that the complex is likely to be entirely market rate units.
Oddly, the dramatic shift didn't dissuade Courage, whose staff is working closely with the developer and has arranged for the corporation's lobbyist to pitch the plan at a community meeting on March 21. CHPNA has not been asked to participate and is still awaiting responses to questions emailed to the developer in early February.
No plan to mitigate increased traffic. Funding could take years.
Ballot feedback reveals the addition of nearly 500 additional vehicles to neighborhood streets is a top concern among residents. Many are dismayed that neither Courage or Bravo has proposed a strategy to secure the $9 million Public Works claims is needed to upgrade two-lane Jones-Maltsberger. Without renovation, the roadway will become significantly more congested, particularly near Ramsey, and access to Crownhill Park will be more unsafe for years to come. Last fall, CHPNA was unable to secure Courage's support to seek the funds via the upcoming bond measure.
Residents are also concerned that an increasingly congested Jones-Maltsberger will result in hundreds of apartment dwellers using neighborhood streets as a westbound short cut. This traffic would be combined with an anticipated increase of eastbound diverted commercial traffic from restriction of the McCullough street bridge when Tx-Dot's highway renovations begin in three years. CHPNA wants city funding to inhibit cross-traffic included in any plan Jones-Maltsberger.
Battle likely headed to Zoning Commission.
The site is currently zoned Class C3 which allows limited types of commercial development, and would need to be re-zoned to Class MF-25 for a multi-family residential complex to be built. City ordinances require the Zoning Commission hold public hearings to debate the project before the City Council would vote on a re-zoning request. Residents are encouraged to attend these meetings which will be announced on this website.
A Zoning Commission approval could be made contingent upon conditions it determines necessary, such as traffic mitigation investments. However if the commission refuses to approve the development, the project's lobbyist may attempt to bypass the commission altogether and push the council vote using a procedural loophole it has exploited in the past.
Community skeptical of developer's scare tactics.
In an early January meeting, the developer told CHPNA that a commercial alternative allowed by the current zoning would generate up to five times more traffic than the proposed apartment complex. Vague and dubious statistics on daily peak hour traffic were presented which CHPNA has since disproven. Its own analysis concluded that the most likely commercial developments would generate far less traffic and often limit it to weekdays.
CHPNA encourages residents to scrutinize the developer's claims given that the site has remained undeveloped for decades because it has limited functionality despite its C3 zoning status. Proximity to a school may prohibit businesses serving alcohol. Proximity to the airport prohibits tall buildings. Proximity to our residential neighborhood could prohibit noisy facilities. For example, plans for a gas station and a golf range have been rejected in the past.
The complex may fail to attract upscale tenants.
The developer claims its complex would be a 'Class A' facility attracting upscale tenants. But it will be built in the shadow of an elevated highway overpass which may prove to be a deterrent. In general, the noisy airport district isn't highly desirable for housing and many of its apartment complexes garner lower rents accordingly.
If the developer fails to attract its intended tenants, it may eventually settle for those qualifying for government rental assistance. Independent research studies verify that crime rates are higher in large affordable housing complexes with rent-subsidized tenants. And while the developer can simply sell a complex that fails to meet its profit goals, Crownhill Park could inherit an unappealing complex which denigrates over time.
Potential displacement of homeless encampment not enough to sway residents.
Survey feedback indicates that while residents are concerned about the on-going homeless encampment, they aren't willing to incur the potential for more permanent problems for its removal. CHPNA agrees that any development is likely to displace the encampment, and it will continue to insist the site be developed in harmony with our neighborhood.
Watch this website, nextdoor.com and facebook for additional updates from CHPNA.