By Kevin L. Hoover, Mad River Union - April 10, 2018
ARCATA – In a visualization of the alternative plan offered by opponents of the proposed “The Village” student housing project, residents stroll among buildings of an agreeably human scale, where the lanes are lush with gardens and greenery, and everyone looks to be young and/or in love.
The idyllic mix of attractive housing suggested for the site by Arcata Citizens for Responsible Housing (ACRH) resulted from reverse-engineering and eliminating everything the group’s members don’t like about The Village, augmented with ideas aired at a recent scoping session plus the expertise of Arcata-based project management and design firm Greenway Partners.
The alternative plan was unveiled at last week’s Planning Commission meeting and on the group’s website, arcatacrg.org. At its previous meeting, the Planco had finalized its review of the permits, plans, zoning amendments, development agreement and Draft Environmental Impact Report for The Village.
ACRH Boardmember John Bergenske asked the Planco to include his group’s plan...
Read the entire article and additional coverage of the ACRH's opposition to The Village project application by visiting the Mad River Union
By Kimberly Wear, NorthCoast Journal - March 22, 2018
When a massive student housing project goes back before the Arcata Planning Commission on March 27, a recently formed community group will be presenting more than a show of opposition to the proposal — they have an alternative plan.
"We believe there's a better way than The Village project," says John Bergenske, one of Arcata Citizens for Responsible Housing's (ACRH) three directors.
With a bit more than 150 members, the group has coalesced over concerns about a real estate development company's bid to build a three- and four-story complex to house 700 students on the Craftsman's Mall site, which sits across U.S. Highway 101 from LK Wood Boulevard north of campus and currently consists of a rambling collection of old warehouses and assorted buildings broken up by an occasional trailer and a few small homes.
With a website and nonprofit status, ACRH is readying to offer a different vision for the 10-acre parcel, one with a focus on what Bergenske describes as "blended density" that is integrated with the community rather than the exclusive domain of students...
The ACRH is making tremendous progress on our creating a wonderful alternative to The Village project for our community, and having a lot of fun while doing it! Get involved to join the community inclusive development movement.
By Kevin L. Hoover, Mad River Union - March 15, 2018
ARCATA – As Arcata’s Planning Commission grinds through hearings en route to probable approval of The Village, an 800-bed student housing complex to be sited at the present location of the Craftsmans Mall, a citizens group which objects to the proposal is developing an alternative plan for the site.
Arcata Citizens for Responsible Housing (ACRH) held a design charette at Arcata Elementary School (AES) last Thursday, soliciting community comment on a project that might avoid the many problems it sees with The Village. These include the project’s size, capacity, traffic impacts, loss of tax revenue and consequences for adajcent neighborhoods.
To assist in crafting the plan, ACRH has engaged Arcata-based planning firm Greenway Partners.
“We believe there’s a better way than The Village project,” said John Bergenske of ACRH. He said the group is fast-tracking development of a proposal to be presented to the Planco at its Marsh 27 meeting, when it next considers The Village.
A good plan, Bergenske said, could compel the Planco to force major changes to The Village.
Beyond that, an approved Village project would go on to the City Council for final approval, where it could also be halted. “The Planning Commission is ‘practice’,” Bergenske said. “The real game is the council. We’re not even into the game yet.”
Another option is developing a ballot measure in opposition to The Village. Bergenske said ACRH now has about 100 members, and he asked attendees at the AES gathering to each recruit 10 friends. With 1,000 members, he said, it would be clear to all that the group could gather enough petition signatures to qualify a ballot initiative. he also asked for donations via the groups website, arcatacrh.org.
Greenway Partners Principal Kirk Cohune asked attendees for “game-changing ideas – what we want, not what we’re opposed to” in order to help create a “compelling, community supported project.”
Criteria for a replacement for The Village would be a project that works on a design level, could be financially viable and is actually developable.
He said Greenway is fast-tracking its planning in order to have something to present to the Planco at its March 27 meeting. “We have 19 days to do work that normally takes four months,” he said.
He said Greenway is “reverse-engineering” The Village to ascertain its costs. Cohune added that it is “not uncommon” in California for alternative projects to be developed in response to a development proposal.
Greenway planner Jason Brownfield then displayed slides of a conceptual design for the 10-acre Craftmans Mall site, one intended only as a conversation starter.
The conceptual layout includes a mix of single-family dwellings and apartment buildings of various shapes and sizes. The homes are located on the parcel’s west side, minimizing visual and other impacts on Maple Lane. That street’s residents have been particularly upset over effects The Village would have on privacy, noise, shading and their property values.
Farther northeast are a variety of larger structures, and some smaller ones to the southeast.
Options for the site include the family homes and the apartments, but also senior housing and even tiny houses.
An additional one-acre site to the north of the Craftsmans Mall on St. Louis Road, owned by Mad River Lumber, might be available for commercial facilities to provide “items of necessity” for the residents of the main parcel.
Options discussed include stores, a laundromat and a coffee shop.
By Kevin L. Hoover, Mad River Union - February 25, 2018
ARCATA – In its seventh hearing on The Village student housing complex, Arcata’s Planning Commission got into the weeds – or at least the landscaping and other minute details – of the proposed project. The Planco spent considerable time on Design Review, with the project’s finalized Environmental Impact Report expected to be complete by the next meeting.
The development, which would be located at the site of the Craftsman’s Mall, appears to be steadily marching toward Planco approval. Should that occur, the City Council would next take up the project and make a final decision.
By way of appeasing critics, project proponents presented commissioners with some new alternatives. Three different façade designs were offered, and one story was removed from the two westernmost of the project’s four structures. That in response to strong criticism of the mammoth project’s bulk by residents of Maple Lane, which lies to the west and below The Village.
The downsizing would reduce the student population from a nominal 800 to 700, but would not affect the project’s four-building footprint or the number of parking spaces.
Meanwhile, a well-organized opposition group known as Arcata Citizens for Responsible Housing (ACRH) is creating an alternative housing plan for the Craftsman's Mall site.
ACRH, a newly registered non-profit, says it supports infill and high-density student housing, but opposes The Village. Its alternative plan will be developed by Arcata planning firm Greenway Partners. A public design charette is set for Thursday, March 8, at a location to be announced.
ACRH has been soliciting members from the Westwood Village neighborhood via Facebook. Associate membership applications and other material is available at the group’s website, arcatacrh.org.
Representatives of the group addressed the Planco, scolding city staff for allegedly advocating for The Village. The ACRH reps claimed the project is widely disliked by the public.
Boardmember John Begenske summarized the group’s stance on The Village as “too much, too soon and not well enough thought out.”
The Village will again be considered by the Planco at its Feb. 27 and March 13 meetings.