Concerned Neighbors Watch as Council Approves “Precedent Setting” Development Near Allen Station

Published : Thursday, November 21, 2013 | 6:26 AM

A ‘precedent setting’ project received approval by the City Council on Monday to vacate Meredith Avenue and allow construction of a 128 housing unit and adjacent commercial use building on the northwest corner of Walnut Street and Allen Avenue.

Around fifteen concerned neighbors attended the public hearing at the Council meeting to express how the already parking-impacted neighborhood would acutely feel the parking and traffic burden of additional vehicles.

“This kind of project shows no respect for the neighborhood. It’s less than two acres of land and you’re going to put 128 residential rooms on that, then add 2500 square foot commercial and another 2500 square foot restaurant and only 203 parking spaces. Adding more spaces would be very welcomed. Parking there is already a challenge… Transit development parking does not work,” Pasadena resident Harold Zechner said.

The Council also received six opposition letters prior to the meeting.

Each question the public raised was address by staff, including a partial solution to the parking problem. The City had been working with the developers earlier that day to agree to add 23 more parking spots both subterranean and on the surface level. Zechner had asked for 32 more parking spaces, but complied that 23 more spaces solve part of the issue.

When the Gold-line extended to Pasadena, the City Council adopted a plan in 2010 for “Transit-Oriented Development” to encourage new housing to be built oriented toward the residents using public transit. However, a parking plan was not assessed at that time, thus the city is currently developing Transit-Oriented Development parking requirements, according to Councilmember Margaret McAustin.

This project, located in McAustin’s district, will be the first development near the Allen light rail station.

“This is a really important project because it’s a pioneering project for this area, it represents a real change from what’s been there for a long, long time. This project serves to implement the general plan vision we had for this area, which is transit-oriented development supporting the light rail, which is right around the corner.,” McAustin said.

AMCAL Equities, LLC will be the developers of the mixed-use project on 1.92 acres consisting of 128 luxury apartments and 5,000 square feet of commercial and restaurant space in two buildings, one three-story and one four-story. The number of parking spaces will total 226. Of the 128 units, nine are ‘very low income’ units and one is a ‘moderate income’ unit.

This project marks the first development by AMCAL in the Pasadena and representative Darren Hansen expressed excitement about finding a project in Pasadena that will work well with their company who does both the design and construction.

“Councilmember McAustin was very supportive of the concept, but also challenged us to really develop something special here, so we spent a lot of time doing that,” Darren Hansen of AMCAL said.

AMCAL expressed their main goal was to stay consist with the city’s vision of the east Colorado specific plan, making sure not to ask for any deviations of all the applicable city codes.

“I think they’ve done a good job in trying to be sensitive to the neighbors to the south and the north. I support the project and I do appreciate when a developer comes in and actually tries to play by our rules instead of coming in and asking for a lot of exceptions to the rules,” McAustin said.

By vacating Meredith Avenue, the City will relinquish the rights and be relieved from future maintenance responsibilities or liability associated with the prior street.

However, before construction begins, AMCAL needs to purchase the second half of the property, return to the design committee with the full design plan, and make a new plan within 90 days for the one percent of the project designated for public art. The Council expressed that adding benches as AMCAL had proposed could not count as art.

“In the past developers have used the one percent set aside for public art in ways that seem simply to complete the project, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t rethink that approach,” Mayor Bill Bogaard said.

Once the development is finished, the vehicles exiting the once Meredith Avenue driveway will only be able to turn right. The residents of the project will also be unable to obtain an overnight street-parking permit.