Another apartment community is slated for the Olive Avenue corridor in south Peoria.
This one is planned for a long-vacant commercially zoned property adjacent to Loop 101.
The Peoria Planning and Zoning Commission recommended a proposal to bring 264 multi-family units near the southwest corner of 91st and Olive avenues, dubbed Peoria Commons.
A handful of other apartment communities are also slated for the area, particularly at the intersection of Olive and 83rd avenues.
This project also has a zoning companion case, but a hearing date has yet to be set.
The case calls for an amendment to the General Plan Land Use Map for about 11 gross acres from Commercial to the Urban Residential land use designation.
Commissioner Shawn Hutchinson said this is a great infill project.
Peoria City Council will consider the case April 21.
“It is needed in this area. I think it’s a great, great fit,” he said. “I was looking at some of the renderings and imagining it in that area and I think this is a win-win for everybody.”
Peoria Commons will be a gated community and provide 2-story and 3-story designs with a well-integrated architectural theme throughout the development, according to documents. The buildings will offer studio, 1-bedroom, and 2-bedroom units for a net residential density of 29 units per acre.
The commission recommended the case to city council, 6-1, the lone dissenter Commissioner Tony Feiter.
The case drew some reticence from commissioners due to the request to change the land use designation from commercial to residential.
The parcel has been a hard sell for commercial over the years due to its irregular shape and shallow depth. It is a remnant parcel as a result of the engineering design of the Loop 101.
City Planner Lorie Dever said the parcel has been vacant for decades and there have been several modifications to develop it as commercial use.
Typically from an economic development standpoint, when you have commercial designation adjacent to a freeway, it’s considered advantageous. But she said this is not the most advantageous site for commercial and there are better sites along Loop 101, she said.
In 2005, the city council specifically acknowledged that this particular parcel was not a prime market location, she said.
“They specifically asked for a limitation on use. Staff said at the time we cannot get high intensity commercial uses on this particular site,” Ms. Dever said. “From an economic development standpoint if we retain commercial, we would probably need to modify the standards yet again in order for this site to develop as commercial. This would attract business that is less than high market status.”
Mr. Feiter said he has been struggling with this project because it would give up valuable freeway commercial land that would drive daytime employment.
“I hate to be the odd man out here. The way our city is configured, our commercial freeway frontage is really limited. I know there’s some history I know we’ve been working through this for a while. It just feels short sighted to me. We recently approved three multi-family projects less than a mile away,” he said. “I’m just reluctant to give up commercial on the freeway when the way the city is configured, it is really at a premium for us.”
Chair Jeff Nelson agreed with Mr. Feiter, but sided with the change to residential. Based on the history of the parcel, maybe it is time to go a different direction, he said.
“I really don’t like giving up commercial space. It is prime real estate. It generates taxes, it is revenue producing,” he said. “That said, it sounds like it is not for lack of trying to market this piece of land. From what I gather there has been a lot of attempts. Council has taken a look at this a number of times over the years. I feel that if it was developable, we would have seen something by now.”
The proposed multifamily development will feature 11 separate buildings, including a community clubhouse, four central residential buildings and six carriage house buildings along the western perimeter of the property. Amenities will include two swimming pools, community areas and a clubhouse.
Ample surface parking will be provided throughout the development, with the carriage house buildings providing private garage spaces for residents.
David Cisiewski, who represents the applicant Mayer Development Services, said the land has been zoned commercial for almost 40 years, but has never materialized as a viable commercial option.
He said Sedona 43 has owned the property for seven or eight years and has had virtually no commercial interest in it.
Peoria Commons is a very viable solution to a property that has sat vacant forever, he said.
“The market is telling us that this property is just not right for commercial. In 2005, it was a strong market and it still didn’t happen. During that time everything was being developed,” he said. “You would think with now freeway frontage and commercial activity to the north, maybe it would develop. But this just isn’t going to work from a commercial standpoint.”
Philip Haldiman can be reached at 623-876-3697, firstname.lastname@example.org, or on Twitter @philiphaldiman.