VOL. 132 | NO. 167 | Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Parking at Crux of Cooper Street Plan
By Patrick Lantrip
It’s no secret that adding density in core areas like Midtown and Downtown has become one of the city’s more high-profile developmental goals, which is why more plans for multifamily projects have been popping on the agendas of governing bodies recently.
One of the latest is 25-unit studio apartment building slated for 999 S. Cooper St. that will be considered by the Shelby County Board of Adjustment on Wednesday, Aug. 23.
The plans were submitted by Los Angeles-based developer Focal Point Investment, which wants to develop a two-building apartment complex on the 0.4-acre vacant lot located across from First Congregational Church near the popular Cooper Street-Young Avenue intersection.
Like most developments in Midtown, feedback to the Board of Adjustment was plentiful and varied.
A developer wants to build 25 studio apartments on this vacant tract near the intersection of Cooper Street and Young Avenue. (Daily News File/Patrick Lantrip)
Cooper Young Community Association executive director Kristen Schebler said that when a project receives a mixed response from residents, her organization typically does not take an official stance.
She said that while there is a small group of residents who are opposed to any kind of development on this site, the majority are in favor of adding the apartments, but have design and parking concerns about the current plans.
In an effort to attract younger, less car-dependent tenants, Focal Point’s design included parking spaces for 21 cars and 25 bicycles when it originally submitted last month.
“In general, Cooper-Young is a pretty bike friendly and walking friendly space, and people like seeing development that speaks to that,” Schebler said. “But there is also a concern that we are just not there yet as a city, and that this will only add to the parking concerns of the neighborhood in general.”
Since the application was submitted, the developers have reached an agreement with First Congregational to add five more spaces, which Chad Fischer, Focal Point’s market director, said is more than the Unified Development Code requires for this type of development.
“Most apartments are counted at 1.5, but studios are not, per the UDC,” Fischer said of the required parking spaces-per-unit ratio.
Fischer added that his company is targeting a select group of people who want to live there and who understand that parking is an issue.
“You’re not going to get somebody moving in there with three cars and a family, it’s going to be a single person starting out who wants to live in Cooper-Young and may want to eventually transition into buying houses in the area,” he said. “So this is kind of a grooming spot for future residents of Cooper-Young.”
Schebler said that while she hopes this project will generate more development along this southern portion of Cooper Street, especially closer to Southern Avenue, she wished the developers would have reached out to surrounding residents before submitting the plans.
“I think there wasn’t quite enough time in their short timeframe to really dig into a community meeting type of situation, and that is something I always urge anyone coming in and doing a big project to try and do,” she said.