Columbia's planning commission on Monday gave final approval to a design for the first private student dormitory near Five Points.
In a 5-0 vote with two members absent, commissioners agreed to authorize a four- to five-story complex with 660 beds and a five-story, 557-space private parking garage.
City Council is set to give a final go-ahead to the reportedly $50 million project at its Tuesday meeting. The city's Zoning Board of Appeals is to vote next week on a special density exception to allow some 60 more units than normally permissible on 4 acres of land, city staffers said.
Atlanta-based Peak Campus Development for the first time has disclosed publicly that its plan is to construct a roughly 370,000-square-foot, three-building complex that would contain 218 units – most of them four-bedroom units.
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The complex at Gervais and Harden streets would overlook the Five Points entertainment district and would abut the Waverly neighborhood.
City staffers recommended approval of Peak’s site plan with conditions – 22 of them.
“(S)taff would request that the (Planning) Commission grant approval subject to staff comments,” city officials wrote for Monday’s meeting. “Details to be deferred to staff,” planning director John Fellows wrote to the commission about landscaping, bicycle parking, widths of sidewalks and a design for the entrance plaza.
Some of Peak’s plans have yet to be spelled out, including a traffic impact study, flood control, width of sidewalks and a provision that developers be responsible for the cost of changes in city utilities, staffers pointed out.
Columbia’s Planning and Development Director Krista Hampton said the 22 conditions are mostly routine.
The complex or similar proposals to change city zoning requirements in C-3 designations have drawn mixed reactions. The most examined provision is to cut in half to 300 feet required buffers to areas zoned residential. Smaller buffers would be allowed when a student housing complex is separated by an active railroad line, an area zoned commercial or a major road.
The Five Points project has a rail line along its western side and is across the street from a gas station.
Former mayor Bob Coble is representing Peak Campus and Mayor Steve Benjamin has proposed the changes to the C-3 zoning law. City Council added a stipulation that no other private dormitory would be allowed in C-3 areas after Jan. 1 because city staffers are working on a overhaul of all zoning laws.
The zoning change is up for council’s final approval Tuesday.