Council approves Project Cleveland

Mayor Lioneld Jordan (right) listens as developer Seth Mims outlines plans for Project Cleveland while Modus Studio architect Chris Baribeau talks with Ward 4 Alderwoman Sarah Lewis. The team led council members, neighbors and reporters on a walking tour of the proposed location last week.

Photo: Todd Gill, Flyer staff

The Fayetteville City Council approved plans for Project Cleveland, a 122-unit student apartment complex across from the University of Arkansas campus, during Tuesday night’s regular meeting.

The 6-2 decision came shortly after midnight and followed nearly five hours of debate. Alderman Mark Kinion and council member Rhonda Adams voted against the project, which established a planned zoning district at West Cleveland Street and North Hall Avenue. Kinion sided with area neighbors and said while he liked the design of the complex, he felt it was presented at the wrong time and at the wrong location. Adams said she didn’t hear enough evidence to prove the need for a rezoning of the property.

The 2.71-acre site is currently home to a 60-unit apartment complex across the street from a five-story UA dormitory. Developers Seth Mims and Jeremy Hudson with Specialized Real Estate Group plan to replace the existing complex and several single-family rental houses along Hall Avenue with a LEED Silver-certified apartment building designed by Fayetteville architecture firm Modus Studio, the same team behind the popular Eco Modern Flats complex.

The developers agreed to pursue some final changes to their plans at the request of the council Tuesday night including construction of a right-only turn out of the building’s parking garage onto Hall Avenue and the addition of several apartment design elements along Cleveland Street.

The changes were two of many adjustments made over the past few months to accommodate city staff and neighbors who said the building was too large in the original proposal. The five-story complex was reduced to two stories where it meets the neighborhood to the north, and 100 units were removed from the design to decrease the density of the project.

While the first hearing of the project included many complaints from nearby residents who were opposed to Project Cleveland, Tuesday’s discussion was dominated by residents and university students who were in favor of the complex. Most cited the building’s close proximity to campus as their top reason for supporting the project, particularly because it would create an opportunity to walk to class instead of having to drive and pay to park.

Others cited the plan’s careful attention to City Plan 2030 which serves as the city’s comprehensive land use plan and aims to establishes a vision for what Fayetteville can achieve.

Council members in support said while they sympathized with neighbors who opposed changes to their established neighborhood, a student housing development that promotes infill and walkability, and that is located directly next to the university, is exactly the type of project Fayetteville needs to encourage at a time when enrollment is up and on-campus housing availability is down.

For more details and information on Project Cleveland, see our June 18 story.