Opinions differ on Fulton housing development

Lupe Development Partners LLC returned to the Fulton neighborhood April 22 to discuss options for a senior-housing building at 51st and Ewing.

Last week’s meeting followed up a February meeting in which Fulton residents discussed traffic and parking issues, and the building’s size.

The proposed three-story building would have underground parking and increase the capacity of the existing municipal lot. The building also would include affordable housing–20 percent of the building’s units would be affordable to seniors at 50 percent of the metropolitan median income.

For the folks who oppose the project, it’s not the affordable-housing aspect of the developer’s new design plans they don’t like.

It’s the size, and the related effects on traffic and parking in the residential neighborhood.

"The developer really gave us no options," said Barbara Harmon, who lives on Ewing. "The options were all the same size. It is so large–it is totally out of proportion with the neighborhood."

For other residents, the project is a great way to include affordable housing in the neighborhood.

"This area is one of the few plots in Fulton left to develop, and if we don’t do it there we might as well say we aren’t going to put affordable housing in Fulton," said Brenda Van Vugt, who lives on 49th and Ewing.

Fulton resident Jeff Schoenbauer, a landscape architect who volunteered his time to help the neighbors and the developer discuss various options for this project, said the development is a work in progress.

"People have to be reminded that for any process to be successful, all sides have to come together in good faith," he said. "If something does come out of it that can work, it should be strongly considered.

"I think people do appreciate the importance of affordable housing, but they are also concerned about what the building will look like, and its scale, and the parking and traffic–all of which need to be thought through clearly to make sure it works."

On May 8, Lupe Development will present a final design that incorporates comments from residents. Board members of the Fulton Neighborhood Association will review the design and hear reaction from residents about the proposal before offering an endorsement or rejection of the project.

The project has not been presented to the city yet. Developers would need city approval for rezoning and variances, as well as agreements with private property owners to demolish five rental homes.