The Redlands Planning Commission unanimously approved a 328-luxury apartment complex on the north and south sides of Orange Avenue between Alabama and Iowa streets on Monday, Sept. 30.
Commission Chairman Steven Frasher called the LuxView Apartment Living proposal a “stellar project” that “will look good” in the “spot-on,” location. It now heads to City Council for a final decision.
“It’ a low-density project with high open spaces,” said Frasher, acknowledging that the project is not affordable housing.
The project would be one of the “finest communities in the region,” consisting of 328 units in six three-story apartment buildings, according to a staff report presented by project planner Sean Reilly.
According to Gary Miller of Miller Architects, “more than 5,000 medical professionals commute to Redlands every day for work and they are in desperate need of high-quality rentable housing.”
“The area is missing high-quality family housing,” said Miller. “This project will meet the housing need.”
Miller said that at similar complexes throughout the state studios rent for $1,400 a month and two-bedrooms units rent for $2,400 a month. The project is walking distance to shops and reasonably close to the forthcoming Ersi station for the Redlands Passenger Rail Project.
“The project enhances the area, provides needed luxury rental housing, complements adjacent uses and weaves seamlessly into the city fabric,” he concluded.
With about two dozen members of the Southwest Carpenters union as eyewitnesses, city leaders thanked the developers for working with nearby schools to mitigate certain issues such as traffic and noise.
Representatives from the Grove School Farm Campus and the Montessori school attended the special meeting to thank the developers and offer their full support on the project.
Also present were homeowners of the Cottage Lane residential area, including Brian Sexton, president of the homeowners association, who expressed discomfort about the project.
Sexton cited height and an invasion of privacy as main issues. He also argued houses will decrease in value because of the proximity to tall buildings that block the view of the mountains.
“One issue of major concern of ours in particular is the height of the buildings and their proximity to our homes. In one location a three-story, 44-foot-tall building will sit just 50 feet from several homes,” Sexton told the Redlands Community News. “Not their property line but the actual walls and bedroom windows of their houses. How can the planning commissioners not see this as a problem for our residents?” “The main part of that same building will be located just 138 feet away from, and will run parallel to 10 homes.
“Having balconies for each of the residences on the third floor to sit across from, and look down directly into our bedrooms.”
Sexton said they have hired a certified drone operator to assess the issue.
“Ultimately, we hope that the City Council will hear our concerns, or the developers will agree to change the height, or move this building to another location further away from our houses,” he added.
As part of the agreement with nearby schools, the developer would install a lighted crosswalk and six speed-limit signs in the school zone. This agreement minimizes the risk of an accident.
“It wasn’t a perfect solution,” said Dingyi Chang, a senior at the Grove School.
“Cars would often speed past the crosswalk, even when the lights were turned on,” he said. “From personal experience, my friends and I have had a couple of near-misses, from cars that just didn’t care enough to stop. In an environment containing children as young as three to 4 years old, this becomes a safety concern even with the limited amount of traffic that we receive.”
According to a city staff report, the project would provide 726 parking spaces, exceeding the 722 spaces required by the specific plan.
The Municipal Code would require only 640 parking spaces for a similar project, the report said.
Based on the cost-benefit model used by the city, the project provides a “positive cost-benefit ratio of 1.61 over the period of 2019-20.”
“This project will provide the city approximately $391,119 in revenue exceeding costs to the city of $237,583, resulting in a positive balance of $153,535,” according to the socio-economic cost-benefit study.
The commission also voted to change the zone on the location from administrative professional to multiple-family residential.