Harrisonburg City Council will consider changes to a previously approved 400-bedroom apartment complex on Peach Grove Avenue, among other development requests, grant resolutions and presentations today.
The applicant, Skylar & Talli LLC, wants to turn the space on the first floor of the proposed Apartments at Peach Grove building from commercial to residential space, which would add roughly 60 new beds to the planned six-story apartment block on 5.44 acres at 1051 and 1351 Peach Grove Ave. off Port Republic Road.
The pandemic recession has meant there is less need for the commercial space due to an increase in commercial vacancies caused by business closures, the applicant’s representative, Mac Nichols, a lawyer at Harrisonburg firm Flora Pettit, said at the August Planning Commission meeting.
Nichols said two potential buyers of the property have backed out of a deal with the developer. The buyers have said they would be unable to find businesses to move into the commercial space, according to Nichols.
He also said students moving into the property would free up other homes across town, helping alleviate the city’s low rental vacancy rate of 2% to 3.5%. A healthy rental vacancy rate is 5% to 7%, according to a recently completed city housing study.
Previously, City Council approved the rezoning and three special-use permits needed for the development on May 28, 2019, to allow the project with commercial space on the first floor.
The development received an unfavorable recommendation when it first came to the Planning Commission in 2019, 4-3, but did even worse at the August Planning Commission meeting as all five present commissioners voted to recommend City Council deny the request.
Also on the meeting’s agenda is discussion about the land-use study of municipally operated Heritage Oaks Golf Course, requests for other home developments in the city and resolutions for three Virginia Department of Transportation grants.
The completion of the golf course land use study brings to an end a period of waiting by City Council on how to address Heritage Oaks after calls flared up again last year to make better use of the site, either by selling the land for development or fundamental changes to the park.
As a result of the renewed discussions, City Council commissioned two studies — one to analyze the course’s business operations and another about the land use. The business study was completed and presented to council earlier this year.
In a presentation to council tonight, the state-affiliated Urban Land Institute will lay out three scenarios for the future of the course: retain and enhance, partial redevelopment, and complete redevelopment, according to documents.
The first scenario, retain and enhance, was identified as the most in line with the city’s goals for the site, followed by the partial redevelopment. Complete redevelopment was ranked last.
In addition to the Apartments at Peach Grove, other residential developments City Council will consider:
• a rezoning and special-use permit request for a maximum 40-unit town home development on 3.14 acres at 601 Pear St. called Cobbler’s Court from Cobbler’s Valley Development Inc.
• a rezoning, special-use permit and subdivision for a different town home development on 2 acres at the end of Suter Street from PDY LLC with a cul-de-sac at the end of the street
Planning Commission offered favorable recommendations for those requests at its August meeting.
The three Virginia Department of Transportation grant resolutions on council’s agenda:
• Transportation Alternatives Program Grant for Country Club Road sidewalks
• Transportation Alternatives Program Grant for the next phase of the Northend Greenway
• Revenue Sharing Grant for the University Boulevard relocation project