12b Lofts Apartments adjacent to the Bluemont Hotel are planning a 33-unit expansion. The Manhattan City Commission unanimously voted Tuesday to amend the site’s zoning and development plan to allow for the expansion.
The addition, referred to as the 11b Lofts, would bring the unit total from 37 to 70. Three structures currently stand at the corner of Bluemont Avenue and 11th Street, where the redevelopment is planned. Two are unoccupied homes, the other is an occupied 12-unit apartment building. Manhattan Planner Ben Chmiel says the expansion would act as a gateway into Aggieville.
“This would make a great addition to the entry point to Aggieville and Manhattan,” says Mayor Mike Dodson. He also said the amount of green space they included with the space they had was reasonable.
Due to city regulations, they’ll also be required to include a stormwater detention system — intended to retain water and deposit into the city stormwater lines once it reaches a certain volume. City Engineer Brian Johnson says a permeable parking surface will be installed in the lot behind the building under which the detention system will be installed.
“They look like dog houses and they assemble together and they’ve got rock base,” says Johnson. “Water comes into there, and fills up so high, and then percolates out.”
Developer T.J. Vilkanskas spoke during public comment and asked that the city take another look at their policy regarding water detention. City policy requires developments over half an acre to add detention systems — which they were 0.02 acres over.
“My concern is when we start adding those costs to the construction, it increases what we have to charge to be able to get the money back out of the project,” Vilkanskas says.
Commissioner Jerred McKee asked whether rent would have been lower without that detention system considering the clientele they seem to be targeting. Vilkanskas says he has the luxury of being able to charge that based on that, but affordable living developments would be more impacted.
“That $50,000 to $75,000 […] could make a difference on whether or the project even gets done,” says Vilkanskas.
City administration says the plans conform with the city’s comprehensive plan and the Aggieville Community Vision Plan and won’t need any changes to conform to the Unified Development Ordinance the city is wrapping up. The Manhattan Urban Area Planning Board also recommended approval.
In total, the apartments would have 129 parking spaces for its 70 units and 172 bedrooms. Some would be tucked under the building similar to their current parking scheme. They also charge an annual fee of $200 for parking. Mayor Pro Tempore Usha Reddi says she has no issues with the proposal and that it doesn’t look like the owner isn’t hurting by charging a fee.
“It seems like people want that parking spot and they’re willing to pay for it,” says Reddi.
Commissioner Linda Morse questioned whether the new development will lead to any increased degradation of the neighboring alleys and whether they’ll be pitching in on their upkeep.
“Seems to me that it’s part of the responsibility of the development that will be using that alley intensely to make a contribution toward the streets in the surrounding area,” says Morse.
City regulations currently approach such improvements through benefit districts. Staff also assured Morse that the alleys would be blocked as an entrance for tenant parking by a wall and that they do not expect a traffic increase.
According to Apartments.com, a 3 bedroom apartment at 12b Lofts runs about $1,800 per month.