Local News

Citizen Group Votes For Downtown Rezoning, Apartments

Posted April 7, 2008 11:24 p.m. EDT

— A citizens' group recommended that the city government extend the boundaries of downtown a little bit to allow the construction of an apartment building near an historic neighborhood.

Developer Gordon Smith envisions building a four-story apartment building with about 200 units on a 2-acre lot at Bloodworth and Martin Streets.

Although a thriving downtown lies on one side of the lot, historic neighborhoods bound it on the other sides. Constructing an apartment building there will require extending downtown overlay district, essentially rezoning the lot.

The Central Citizens' Advisory Council met Monday night to hear Smith present his case for the development.

Smith said that while the rent is still undecided, he guaranteed it would be more affordable than high-end condominiums for sale elsewhere in downtown.

"So this adds diversity to the downtown housing area, as well as adding diversity to this immediate neighborhood," Smith said.

Traditionally, the citizens' group has fought this type of development in their area. Some speakers said they want to see their neighborhood thrive with business and would rather see a grocery or drug store on that corner.

"We are looking for the opportunity to stabilize our community some homeownership opportunity," said Lonnette Williams, chairwoman of the Central Citizens' Advisory Council.

The citizens' group and Smith, though, seemed to find some agreement on the strategic importance of the lot at Bloodworth and Martin, between historic residential neighborhoods and downtown.

"We can attract people who want to walk to work and hopefully not drive a vehicle," Smith said.

"We recognize where we are located, that we are a part of downtown and the changes that are occurring," Williams said. "We can't be like ostriches with our heads buried in the sand."

The citizens' group's approval of the rezoning and development plans will next be considered by city planners.