AT&T Site Update

View looking northwest along College Ave. frontage. Existing mature street trees will be retained and additional landscaping added to soften the hard edges. Image courtesy Milhaus Development.

Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association is taking advantage of an opportunity to use recommendations in its new Neighborhood Plan to support a major infill development. In March 2016 Milhaus Development LLC acquired a 2-acre property from AT&T just south of the intersection at College Avenue and Kessler Boulevard that currently features a parking lot and an obsolete multi-story building. Milhaus retained Ratio Architects to design the building; both firms pledged to use appropriate materials to help the project harmonize with the Meridian-Kessler “look and feel.” Representatives from the development team have met with adjacent neighbors as well as other stakeholders to discuss concerns and has made multiple public presentations to the Meridian-Kessler Neighborhood Association’s Land Use committee. At the committee’s Aug. 1 meeting, Milhaus unveiled its latest iteration of the design for 100 apartments with 9,400 square feet of commercial space. Apartment units range from studios to 3 bedrooms, with prices estimated at between $1,000 and $3,000 per month. A maximum of four commercial tenants could include a mix of office and food/beverage establishments. Neighborhood residents expressed interest in obtaining a clear statement of the type of commercial enterprises that would be excluded from the site, such as a tattoo parlor or a check-cashing/payday loan business. The developer is seeking two variances: one for an increased set-back to the southern most part of its development that exceeds current standards but keeps the façade more in-line with adjacent residences and another variance for height. City staff mandated a traffic study to analyze impacts, so MKNA asked and received a continuance of the Aug. 10 MDC hearing examiner meeting. Once that report was complete and presented to MKNA in September, the MKNA Land Use Committee recommended approval which was unanimously adopted by the MKNA Board. City Staff also support the petition. At the September 15 hearing, remonstrators pointed out a procedural error about the hearing notice that was mailed to adjacent property owners. The Hearing Examiner said she had to recourse but to continue the petition for another 30 days to allow for new notices to be mailed. At the lengthy October 13 hearing, remonstrators requested and received additional time to present their concerns. In the end, Hearing Examiner Judy Weerts-Hall ruled in favor of the project and issued a “do-pass” recommendation [PDF] to the Metropolitan Development Commission with the stipulation of several commitments requested by DMD staff. The MDC will hear the case at 1 p.m. on November 2 at the City-County Building, 200 E. Washington Street, in the Public Assembly Room. Complete site plans and details of MKNA’s decision are available at MKNA’s website.