Having its proposal for renovating the former Oxford building into low-income apartments shot down by the Commerce Planning Commission, a St. Louis company presented a different proposal to the Commerce City Council on Monday night at the council’s “work session” meeting.
That proposal — 52 units of “senior” housing including 18 single-story two-bedroom apartments to be built behind the Oxford building — will still require a rezoning of the 2.7-acre tract from central business district to R-4 (multifamily housing — a previous story incorrectly indicated the request was to change to R-5) and variances in the number of units allowed per acre and the minimum square footage. Those recommendations will be on the city council’s agenda on Monday, April 21, at 6 p.m. at the Commerce Civic Center.
The original proposal was for income-restricted apartments, including 24 townhouse apartments behind the Oxford building.
The change in the project does not require JES Holdings to come back before the planning commission, said planning director David Zellner.
“They’re not changing the zoning (request),” he explained. “It’s still going to be R-4.”
Zellner and city manager Pete Pyrzenski recommended that the council approve the rezoning request and the variances, but at least one council member appeared to have concerns about the project.
“Do we have any data showing that we have the need for senior living?” asked Ward 4 councilman Steve Perry. “We started out with families. …Are we taking in the project because there’s a need or because we want the downtown to look better?”
Josh Engle, part of the “development team” for “The Residences at Oxford Mill,” as JES calls the project, insisted that there is a market in Commerce for senior housing.
“The market analysts are very confident there is a need and a pent-up demand for this type of housing in Commerce,” Engle said. “The demographics show the need.”
The proposal calls for apartments from 740 to 950 square feet and rents of $450-$600 per month.
Council To Send Zoning Amendments Back To Planners
Also on Monday, the council discussed a recommendation by the planning commission to increase the minimum sizes of new houses and apartments, but Pyrzenski recommended that the council send the matter back to the planning commission.
“Aggressively raising” the square footage, he said, “would be a setback for us” in terms of attracting residential construction.
The proposal would increase minimum sizes by 200 to 600 square feet.
For the full story, see the April 9 issue of The Commerce News.