Following neighbors’ concerns about size, Mission council sends proposed 4-story mixed-use project back to planning commission

Jennifer Coleman-Richardson said she felt like the building, as proposed, would “hulk” over her backyard.

The Mission City Council has voted to send a proposed multi-story apartment and retail project on Martway back to the planning commission with directions to review height, density and setbacks after neighbors organized a strong show of opposition.

Several homeowners addressed the council at its Wednesday meeting, reiterating their objections to the variances granted by the planning commission in its recommendation of applicant Kelly Arnold’s mixed-use project, which includes 117 apartment units and 3,491 square feet of retail space in a four-story complex.

Renderings showing views of the project from surrounding neighborhoods at its original five stories, and after being reduced to four.

In an attempt to address early concerns about the mass of the project, which area homeowners worried would loom over the neighborhood, Arnold reduced the planned building from the original five stories to four.

But the project would still require the granting of a number of significant deviations from Mission building codes, including a waiver of a restriction on height.

Jennifer Coleman-Richardson was among residents who own homes in the vicinity of the project site who said the building, as presently configured, was not a good fit for the neighborhood. Coleman-Richardson noted she supported the idea of an apartment building on the land, but that she hoped to see something that would not stand out as much. Had the proposed building been there when she and her wife were looking for homes a few years ago, she said, they likely wouldn’t have even considered the neighborhood.

“If that was there when we were buying the house, we probably wouldn’t have looked,” Coleman-Richardson said. “The fact that it’s going to literally hulk over my backyard makes a huge difference to me.”

Brad Gregory, who has helped organize neighbors in opposition to the project, renewed his call for the city to ask the developer to submit a project that did not require such significant variances.

Councilman Ken Davis moved to send the project back to the planning commission.

“If we stay in the code, we’re going to stay out of trouble,” he said.

Kevin Fullerton, the Mission resident who runs Springboard Creative on Johnson Drive and has helped organize a coalition of local business owners, spoke in favor of the project, saying that he believed the variances were warranted given the challenges of building on the site, which sits adjacent to Rock Creek on a floodplain.

“We’ve got a floodplain that we can’t build much on right now, but we’ve got a developer who is willing to come in and develop that property,” Fullerton said. “This is a good use of this space, and I hope you will consider this project.”

Councilmember Ken Davis, who was recently appointed to fill the remainder of Ron Appletoft’s term after he became mayor, made the motion to remand the proposal back to the planning commission. He echoed many of the neighbors’ concerns about the deviations and the worries about its effect on homes.

The council voted 7-1 to send the plan back to the planning commission, with councilman Nick Schlossmacher casting the dissenting vote.

A rendering of the project looking west on Martway.