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Detached apartments a noted trend in Buckeye, other parts of West Valley

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BUCKEYE — Developers have been submitting different types of development, structure and floor plans in an effort to create more affordable housing.

Brian Craig, the City of Buckeye’s development services director, made a presentation to the City Council last week about the detached, for-rent, bungalow-style developments some companies have proposed recently.

“This is opposed to a town home style, where each individual unit would be on its own plat,” Craig said. “This small, bungalow, stand-alone style is more private than traditional apartments, but has apartment-complex amenities nearby, like pools and a rental or leasing office. It’s really gained in popularity in the past three or four years, across the valley.”

Craig said there have been at least 12 such projects completed in the West Valley in various municipalities or unincorporated Maricopa County, west of the State Route 101 loop. He said there are at least 10 other such bungalow-style rental projects in process within that area.

“The first generation of these are generally pre-built, and are often gray buildings, so they look kind of the same, but we’re seeing more visual variety and floor-plan options,” Craig said.

Craig presented a snapshot of 11 Buckeye housing projects that are in some stage of the planning or approval with the city. He said those projects, if all approved at their current size, would provide 1,600 new homes for the fast-growing city.

Craig mentioned two approved projects that fall under the bungalow-style rental he described. PB Bell at Verrado is 150 units on the southeast corner of 219th Avenue and McDowell Road. Hancock Communities is 394 units east of Watson Road, off of Sundance Parkway, just south of I-10.

He also talked about some submitted proposals. One is Lyfe Living Communities, which is 129 one-story units off Yuma Road, west of Watson Road. Another is Lanai Living is 338 units on the northeast of Monroe and County Road 85.

“These will really help make things work for our new residents,” Craig said.
Craig said many of the conversations city staff have with builders is how much new paved area they’ll create — total parking spaces, how much square footage shall be included in driveways, width, weight ratings, entry and exit and the like.

He also said parking studies and traffic studies sometimes result in developers not receiving credit for building garages as parking spots. With smaller units, many residents tend to use garages to store items, rather than to park vehicles in them.

“We don’t want parking to spill out into adjacent streets,” Craig said.

Emergency access and turnaround areas outside of a gated entry are among the many other considerations in planning, he said.

Council member Craig Heustis encouraged the development staff to stick to guidelines and ordinances already on the books. He also encouraged consideration of emergency vehicle access through and in parking areas.

Council member Jeanine Guy said she didn’t see much green or open space in some of the plans. Craig said that is a common concern expressed by both city staff and by residents during community meetings, and projects that are pending could still be scaled back by developers.

Council member Michelle Hess said she’s concerned about a 92-unit project along Jackrabbit Trail — a main artery that is already experiencing traffic issues along various stretches.

Craig said that’s taken into consideration on pending proposals, and just because a master plan allows for certain density doesn’t mean current and anticipated conditions wouldn’t be considered.

When asked if all of the bungalow-type units require fire sprinklers, Craig said “for the most part, yes, a lot of them will have sprinklers.”

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