Downtown apartments favor fixed income 'elderly'

Poinsett Street complex sails through first reading

By Jim Fair, Editor
Published on Wednesday, February 29, 2012

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Cannon Street Elderly Apartments proposed by McKean & Associates Architects from Montgomery, Ala.

Cannon Street Elderly Apartments proposed by McKean & Associates Architects from Montgomery, Ala.

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The side view is proposed to face Greer City Park and the McKown Cultural Arts Center.

The side view is proposed to face Greer City Park and the McKown Cultural Arts Center.

Greer City Council enthusiastically approved two parcels of land for rezoning tonight to accommodate proposed  apartment complexes. Skepticism quickly replaced the enthusiasm when it came time to approve first reading of the proposed 54 and 56 apartment units, respectively, specifically a 4-story complex planned across from Greer City Park.

The Cannon Street Elderly Apartments would be built on 1.6 acres owned by Greer Partners at 217 Cannon Street. The C-1 (Central Business District) property, was approved for DRD (Design Review District). A parcel of land owned by Brenda Medlock at 706 West Poinsett Street was approved to be rezoned to RM-2, residential multifamily, from its former C-2 and R-12.

Medlock's 1.8 acres on Poinsett Street is planned for 54-56 multifamily residential apartments intended for working families. The Poinsett Street Apartments will not be subsidized housing, according to the developer's presentation. Parking will accompany 89 vehicles including handicapped.

Sidewalks, fencing, landscaping and/or a combination of both is required to buffer between residential/commercial uses. The property is vacant except for one small building used formerly as an office for a used car lot. A grocery store and laundromat is across the street.

Council unanimously approved, 7-0, the first reading for the Poinsett Street Apartments.

Both projects, proposed by McKean & Associates Architects from Montgomery, Ala., are contingent on tax credits. And therein is the roadblock that awaits the developers for The Cannon Street Elderly Apartments.

The developer proposed building 54 senior living apartments in a 4-story complex. There would be 21 one-bedroom units, 1 handicap one-bedroom unit, 30 two-bedroom units and 2 handicap two-bedroom units. Seniors are classified as age 55 and above. 

The $7 million project would receive a $5 million tax credit for the developers and they would pay the remaining $2 million. Rent with the developers paying utilities would be about $663 and $571 with tenants paying utilities. Two bedroom units would likely be $786 or $672 with renters paying for utilities. 

City Administrator Ed Driggers opened the objection of the complex facing James Street while the side fronts the City Park's pond and McKown Arts Center. DRD zoning allows the city to advise, approve or disapprove developments. "Is there any flexibility what it would look like facing City Park?" Is it possible to turn it around?" said Driggers.

Eric McKean said he would revisit that possibility. "I would prefer that," Driggers said.

McKean told council the apartments were not subsidized housing but a ceiling on tenants' income would prohibit those earning over $38,000 from living there. "That means someone making $100,000 in investments is ineligible to live there," Councilman Wryley Bettis said. "I don't like that." Either did other council members.

"I don't agree with the model and think everybody should have an opportunity to live here," Councilman Lee Dumas said. "It just wouldn't fit," Councilman Wayne Griffin said referring to the apartment's fronting James Street.

Councilman Jay Arrowood found disfavor with the model's income restrictions and its less than favorable economic impact on downtown businesses. "This will be a fixed income project. People won't have as much disposable income and it won't ever grow."

Driggers said Greer "Is trying to create a higher market. The question is what are we willing to do?" He encouraged council members to approve the first reading to allow McKean Associates to adapt its plans.

A motion was eventually agreed and seconded to pass first reading to keep the proposal alive for developers to find answers to council's queries. The motion passed with Bettis, Kimberly Bookert, Judy Albert and Mayor Rick Danner voting yes. Arrowood, Griffin and Dumas voted no.

Second reading for both proposals will be March 13. A no vote for the Cannon Street apartments puts to rest that development for at least one year before it can be revisited. Council could also refuse to entertain a motion and the proposal will cease to exist.

People mentioned in this article. Click a name to view more articles for that person.

Ed Driggers

Businesses mentioned in this article.

City of Greer


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