The Austin College community may soon see the construction of a student housing apartment building near campus. The Sherman Planning and Zoning Commission approved a site plan for new housing to be built along North Hunt and North Bledsoe during a meeting last month.
The request will see the construction of a nearly 17,500 square foot, three-story residence building in the 1200 block of both North Hunt and North Bledsoe.
“We are proposing to put student housing in that location very similar to the flats that were built approximately 10 years ago,” said Scott Roberson a representative of the firm Architecture Demarest.
The building will include two- and four-bedroom units with a total of 133 bedrooms for college students.
The college asked for a variance to allow the building to be 57 feet tall in an area where the maximum allowed height is 35 feet. Roberson said this is not the tallest building in the area, and even taller structures have been approved closer to the college.
Roberson said the building will mirror the design and feel of existing structures and other student housing buildings for the campus, including The Flats at Brockett Court. The flats, along with the Marjorie Hass Village, are among the most recent additions to the school’s housing stock and were built in 2011.
“The goal is to carry that character forward,” he said.
The apartment building was one of two housing projects that were originally on the agenda, however, a second project was removed prior to the meeting. The second project would see the construction of neighborhood-style cottages for about 30 students at the corner of North Grand Avenue and East Brockett.
City officials said the second request is expected to return to the commission in June.
The request for the apartment building received no objections prior to the meeting. However, John Fullylove, who lives in the neighborhood, spoke in opposition to the request and the impact it would have on the existing neighborhood. Fullylove also said he was unhappy with what he felt was short notice for the meeting and the college’s plans.
Fullylove said he received the letter, notifying him of the May 21 meeting on May 3, less than three weeks ahead of the P&Z meeting.
“To me, that is not enough time for anybody that lives in that area to make up their mind if they want to continue living in that area, considering what we are talking about,” he said.
P&Z chair Clay Mahone said the city has certain requirements it must follow for the timeline for notification of its meeting. He said the notification followed this procedure and was done according to state law.
Fullylove clarified that he was more referring to the college and its plans to expand into the neighborhood. He said this was the first that he had heard of these plans by the college.
Representatives for AC said they had attempted to reach out to Fullylove and other residents, but he was not at home at the time.
In addition to the notice, Fullylove said he was concerned with the height of the building, which could give some residents a view into his property. Other concerns included the mud and possible construction waste and debris which would be generated from the construction.
Due to these concerns, Fullylove said he felt he and other neighbors should be given compensation for the project.
“I think everyone who has one of these should also have an apology letter sent to them for the fact they waited so long to let us know about this,” he said of the notification letter.
When put to a vote, the commission and board of adjustments unanimously approved both the site plan and the variance request.
What do you think about Austin College building more housing along Hunt and Bledsoe streets? Let local government reporter Michael Hutchins know. He can be reached at MHutchins@HeraldDemocrat.com.