Council approves 422-bed housing development plan

Christie Smith

Plans for a new student housing and retail area along Lincoln Way and South Wilmoth Avenue were approved at an Ames City Council meeting Tuesday night.

The development plan for the housing and retail area that will be known as Aspen Heights belongs to Texas-based developers Breckenridge Group, Ames, Iowa, LLC.

The development at 205 S. Wilmoth Ave., along the intersection of Lincoln Way, will include five buildings with 122 units and more than 420 bedrooms.

The apartments will offer four, three and two-bedroom options. Aspen Heights will have a mixed-use element similar to developments in Campustown, with one of the five buildings reserving 15,000 square feet for commercial development.

The Breckenridge property has been discussed at several council meetings throughout the process of rezoning the area for high-density residential and mixed-use purposes and through the developer’s tax abatement requests. A public hearing to consider the rezoning of the property took place last November.

The detailed development plan was presented to the Ames Planning and Zoning Commission a year ago, according to city documents. The commission recommended several changes to the plan, including the addition of a bike and pedestrian path along Lincoln Way. Pending those changes to the plan, the commission voted 7-0 to recommend approval of the plan.

Since its presentation to the commission last April, Breckenridge addressed six of the recommended changes for Aspen Heights.

Councilman Tim Gartin, Ward 2 representative, expressed concern over the development’s plan for a 6-foot metal fence that will enclose the residential buildings on the property for added security for residents.

T.C. Selman, vice president of preconstruction for Aspen Heights, addressed the council to explain the importance of the fence on the property.

“From a student’s perspective, they like the security knowing they can come and they have a place to park,” Selman said.

More importantly, Selman said, students’ parents can have the peace of mind knowing their children live in a secure development. He said the fence was viewed as a “high priority” for the parents who are often the ones actually leasing the apartments.

Selman said Breckenridge discussed the security and operations of the gate with the Ames Police Department. He said students would be issued a key fob that would open the property gates as well as the doors to their building and individual apartments.

Council members voted 6-0 to approve the major site development plan.

Council members also voted 6-0 to approve a resolution for façade grants for two buildings in Campustown. The Campustown Façade Program was initiated to support, promote and enhance the appearance of commercial buildings in the area.

The city received three applications for the grant program this spring, but one was withdrawn. The two remaining applications were considered Tuesday — one from the Cranford building, which houses Jeff’s Pizza, and the other from the future home of Arcadia Café on Welch Avenue. The two grant requests total $32,500, which comes in nearly $20,000 below the city’s annual budget for the façade program.