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Three housing projects moving ahead

Three housing projects have passed the site design approval stage with the city of Ashland and are moving forward with next steps, which include building permit submissions.

One of the projects is the second phase of the Snowberry Brook Apartments at 380 Clay St. 60 new affordable housing units were approved with the project.

According to the city’s housing element within the comprehensive plan, 44% of Ashland residents are rent burdened, which means they spend more than 30% of their gross income on housing. Another 35% of residents are severely rent burdened, which means they spend more than half of their gross income on housing.

The city, the Parks and Recreation Department and the applicant, the Housing Authority of Jackson County, partnered to purchase the lots to build the apartments.

Ryan Haynes, HAJC director of real estate development, said the wait list to get into the existing Snowberry Brook apartments is about four years long. The second phase should help curb some of that demand.

Phase two includes four two-story eight-plex apartment buildings and seven 2-story townhouse four-plexes. Units will consist of 10 one-bedroom flats, 12 two-bedrooms flats, 10 three-bedrooms flats and 28 two-bedroom townhomes.

The units will be built on two tax lots along Villard Street and Engle Street. Plans call for 19 on-street parking spaces, 86 surface spots and 90 bike parking spaces.

As part of the plan, McCall Drive must be improved to meet city requirements, which includes having the applicant provide a minimum of a 12-foot-wide paved path with two-foot buffers on each side to provide access for pedestrians, bicycles and emergency vehicles.

Another project calls for 70 studio units at 188 Garfield Street in a project called The MidTown Lofts.

Neighbors appealed the project, which originally called for 72 units, to the Land Use Board of Appeals, but the appellants and the applicant reached an agreement July 10.

During the initial Planning Commission reviews of the project, neighbors expressed concerns that the 2.1-acre lot was too small for that many units and that the additional cars would create parking issues and safety hazards.

The settlement states that “the applicant will build no more than 70 units and may consequently eliminate the outdoor pavilion, shade structure and outdoor kitchen that were proposed as a major recreation facilities density bonus to support the additional two units.”

According to Derek Severson, senior city planner, it is staff’s understanding that the two units that have been removed from the plan will be replaced with a manager’s office and/or storage space. There will also be minor changes to the landscaping plan to accommodate the changes. Each unit will be less than 500 square feet.

Another housing project calls for 34 units to be built downtown near the post office at 185 Lithia Way, dedicated for Oregon Shakespeare Festival company members.

The plan includes consolidation of two lots at the corner of Lithia Way and First Street and the construction of a 31,191-square-foot, three-story, mixed-use building with basement parking, ground floor commercial space and 34 residential units.

The OSF Board still needs to approve the plan.

The project, called Plaza East, is the second phase of a development. The first phase, called Plaza West, was built at 175 Lithia Way in 2015.

The largest consideration for project was parking, Severson said. The city would require 37 parking spaces, but the applicant asked for a 35% reduction to 24 spaces.

OSF staff asked if they could meet the remainder of parking requirements with a transportation demand management plan that includes selecting tenants so those placed in the proposed building don’t need parking, and limiting the allowed parking on site in their lease.

OSF said just 20% to 36% of its artists have cars, and OSF has a variety of other housing options in town that residents with cars can use. OSF provides a car share, bike share and shuttles to reduce the need for staff to have vehicles.

A letter written by OSF General Manager Ted DeLong said OSF owns 58 units for company housing and has 54 separate leases for apartments across Ashland. OSF also owns several parking lots attached to OSF-owned housing, and employees are encouraged to park in those lots.

“If approved, this facility will help to stabilize OSF’s housing inventory and cost structure, reduce operational challenges and costs and will release rental units back into the community’s housing stock, a much-needed option within the city,” DeLong wrote.

The Planning Commission agreed to the conditions but requested a more detailed agreement.

“Ultimately, they wanted a more detailed and formal agreement that would be noted on the property deed, and which would have the effectiveness of the measures reviewed with the applicants and staff each year,” Severson said.

Contact Tidings reporter Caitlin Fowlkes at cfowlkes@rosebudmedia.com or 541-776-4496. Follow her on Twitter @cfowlkes6.

An artist rendering of the proposed residential units on top of commercial space downtown near the post office. Photo courtesy of the city of Ashland.{ }
An artist rendering of the proposed residential units on top of commercial space downtown near the post office. Photo courtesy of the city of Ashland.