The option to build an office building just north of the entrance to Lakeside Village has been a market dud, but apartments on the Harden Boulevard tract could do the trick, a representative for the Drummond Company told the city’s Planning and Zoning Board Tuesday.

Tim Campbell, an attorney with Clark, Campbell, Lancaster & Munson representing Drummond Company, said state traffic regulations have made the site less attractive for potential office users. If an office was to go in, vehicles exiting just north of the complex would not be able to turn left to head north on Harden Boulevard. 

Whether that’s a reasonable hangup or not, “it impacted the marketability” of the property at the northwest corner of the Harden Boulevard and Town Center Boulevard intersection, Campbell told board members. The plot is currently undeveloped. 

Instead, Drummond is pitching a plan to change the development agreement with the city to allow 240 apartments among five, four-story buildings, expanded retail space and a convenience store.

Ideally, he said, Drummond would have been able to find a client to build an office building on the site, but “the best laid plans of mice and men…”

The plan is receiving criticism from other owners in the Drummond development area, including some Grasslands residents.

Chaya Starker, an executive with Cherishome Living, the company that owns the Town Center at Lakeside Village Apartments, said the proposal with its five, four-story buildings would damage the “upscale” and “natural” feel of the area. 

Further, it would lead to a glut in the apartment market and drive down rents and resale value of apartment complexes, she said.

“We really feel the commercial and retail use are a better fit and the use of the community,” she said. 

Tentative site plan

The tentative site plan Campbell presented Tuesday shows four of the five apartment buildings essentially in a curvy row with parking in the back. The buildings are canted in regard to the road, however, to reduce the visual impact of the row of buildings, he said. 

Planning board member Andrew Snyder said he didn’t care for the site plan, saying it would build, essentially, a visual wall along Harden Boulevard. 

Peterson & Myers attorney Bart Allen, representing the Grasslands Golf & Country Club and some residents of the gated community, said the original development agreement was an extensive, deeply negotiated agreement.

He suggested to the board that it follow as rigorous a process as the one that led to the current development agreement. “We don’t see this as a small change. We see it as a new development almost in its entirety,” Allen said. 

Robert Miller, a Grasslands resident who said he spoke for residents there, said a four-story building “is not compatible with the surrounding community.”

Campbell, with Drummond, said he will be in contact with the other stakeholder groups in the coming month, and has taken their criticisms seriously. 

“I’ve heard you and your comments,” he said to them and the board, saying he “circled” three-story buildings in his notes. 

“We’ve proven in this process we’ve been able to accommodate the concerns with the neighbors and the golf club,” Campbell said. 

The public hearing will continue into the next board meeting set for Dec. 17 at 8:30 a.m., which allows for public comments ahead of a board ruling.

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