By Scott Smith Kokomo Tribune
---- — Kokomo Mayor Greg Goodnight’s administration came out in favor of a 36-acre apartment development slated for the city’s southwest side Monday, with officials saying the proposed upscale housing units could move professionals to consider living in Kokomo.
But some neighbors living in single-family homes near the intersection of Park Road and Ind. 26 are opposing the project, saying it will eventually depress property values in the area.
Both sides squared off Monday in front of the Kokomo Common Council, which moved forward on rezoning the northwest corner of Park and 26 in a split vote. The rezoning now heads to a final council vote Aug. 12.
If the rezoning passes at that meeting, the developers will be in a position to have site plans approved at the Aug. 13 Kokomo Plan Commission meeting. They have submitted plans for Phase 1 development, which would place 100 units on about 16 acres. Phase 2, if it happens, would add 114 units on the remaining 20 acres.
The prospective developer, Redwood Management, Beachwood, Ohio, owns and operates 25 luxury apartment complexes throughout the Midwest, and is proposing to build clusters of ranch-style, two-bedroom, two-bath, two-car garage units on the Park/26 site, according to Chris White of Site Solutions Inc., Carmel.
White said Redwood has done market studies, and thinks it can attract rents of 90 cents to $1.10 per square foot for the units, which will be built in groups of two, four or eight, White said.
Several neighbors came forward Monday to question those plans, saying the developers are asking for M2 zoning, which would allow up to 24 multi-family units per acre. That’s considerably more dense than the maximum eight units per acre Redwood is currently proposing.
They also questioned whether the Kokomo market can support a luxury development charging more than $1,000 per month rent. Developers plan to target empty nesters and young professionals without children.
“In Kokomo, how many people can afford to rent an apartment for that price, and go to Florida?” area resident Sheila Flora asked.
Resident Keith Hill said if the development doesn’t perform as its backers hope, “it opens the door for all kinds of development that’s highly incompatible with our community.”
Hill offered the council members old advertisements from the 1980s, touting the Pine Valley Apartments as a “luxury” development. Pine Valley is now a subsidized housing complex run by the Kokomo Housing Authority.
City director of development Randy McKay countered the criticism, saying the city administration researched the issue and met with developers and city council members last week.
McKay noted an estimated 10,000 people commute into Kokomo every day for work and then head back to other communities at night.
“We do believe it augments the plan the city has, in pulling back some of these professional citizens who are pulling their money back to Carmel,” McKay said.