89-unit apartment building planned on former UBC site downtown By John McLoone The Hastings Planning Commission recommended an approval for development plans that would clear the way for an 87-unit …
89-unit apartment building planned on former UBC site downtown
By John McLoone
The Hastings Planning Commission recommended an approval for development plans that would clear the way for an 87-unit apartment building to be developed on the former UBC site in downtown Hastings.
The planning commission met last Monday, and Gino Messina and Kyle Romens were reaffirmed as chair and vice chair, respectively, of the panel. New member Bryce LeBrun and Community Development Director John Hinzman “attended” the meeting via the Zoom platform.
The Planning Commission approved a resolution that urges the City Council to adopt a plan that modifies the Downtown Development District and allows for a new Tax Increment Financing District in the downtown area to spur development in the area. NJS Development has proposed developing the apartments on the former UBC site at 4th and Bailey Streets. Hinzman said the property is owned by the Hastings Economic Development and Redevelopment Authority (HEDRA) and has been in city ownership since 2006.
“The TIF District includes the NJS Site along with the Red Rock Commuter Parking Lot to the north and the Block 1 containing Artspace and vacant HEDRA land located along the Mississippi River,” a memo from Hinzman to the planners states. “Areas outside the NJS site are not subject to any development agreements at this time.”
A public hearing on the proposed TIF District is scheduled for Feb. 22. In a TIF District, tax revenue from increases in property value are used to pay for infrastructure improvements needed to spur development in an area. Hinzman wrote, “In establishing the TIF District, the State Law requires the City Council to make the finding that it ‘conforms with the general plan for the development of the city as a whole.’ The resolution adopted by the Planning Commission will be “the basis for the finding,” according to Hinzman.
To allow for the TIF, Hastings Downtown Redevelopment Plan had to be amended to include the area.
“A project area must be established before the City can provide loans to improve property or use financial assistance such as TIF,” said Hinzman.
The Hastings Downtown Redevelopment Area Plan will “Encompass various properties within the downtown, general located between Spring Street and Bailey Street, south to 5th Street,” according to Hinzman.
The plan commission resolution states that the redevelopment plan and the proposed TIF are consistent with the overall city comprehensive plan, and it recommends adoption of the plan and TIF following the public hearing.
The TIF plan shows that the district would generate $6,640,000 in “tax increment revenues” over the 26-year life of the district. “Increment project costs” were proposed at $3,839,000 with financing costs pegged at $2,826,000.
HEDRA has been working on the sale of the UBC site to NJS Development and requested at its December meeting that the TIF plan be forwarded for a public hearing.
“We’ve held this project property for a long time,” Hinzman told the Planning Commission.
He said that the plans for housing on the site and density of the apartment building “are permitted under that district.”
“This is consistent with the overall goal of providing additional apartment units within the downtown,” said Hinzman.
The vote to approve the resolution was unanimous.
That led into a discussion on the potential need for an ordinance amendment to modify minimum parking requirements for apartments. The Planning Commission took no action on the matter, as it was posted on the agenda as a discussion item only.
A memo to members of the commission from Hinzman states that “single family, duplex and multi-family uses are required to provide two spaces per dwelling unit.”
“The current standard works well for single and duplex housing units but does not reflect the reduced need for parking for apartments,” Hinzman said.
City zoning code does allow flexibility for parking requirements for residential units in the downtown area.
“Parking may be determined through a proof of parking study,” Hinzman said. “The provision has been used to allow construction of the Hastings Artspace Apartments, Confluence and the Tyler Street Lofts (Siewert Apartments) with reduced parking requirements.”
City staff plans to request a requirement of 1.5 parking spaces per multi-family unit in buildings with three or more units.
“Looking around at other communities, it’s kind of a mixed bag,” said Hinzman. “You get a lot of communities that are similar to us, but there’s a handful of communities that do have lower requirements, in which they do have reduced parking standards for apartments.”
The Artspace has 1.56 parking spaces per unit, and Hinzman said a recent project approved has 1.4.
“My suggestion tonight is to take a look at a standard that would be less than two. My suggestion would be a spaceand- a-half,” Hinzman said.
Planning Commissioners offered questions and suggestions, noting that if there are roommates, likely both would have a vehicle, and three-bedroom apartments might need three spaces.
Parking requirements in nearby communities are listed in the chart included in this article.
The matter will be discussed further in the near future.