Two-story option added to Grant School housing project
By Gene Kemmeter
The Stevens Point Plan Commission endorsed three actions on the proposed Grant School housing project at 525 Fourth Ave. Monday, April 2, as the developers introduced a possible switch from three-story buildings to two-story.
The Commission voted to accept a final subdivision plat review for the property, rezone the property from R-3 Single and Two Family Residence District to Planned Development District, amend the city’s Comprehensive Plan future land-use map to designate the land as residential from institutional/government.
The proposal calls for the construction of 10 two-family houses on the site of the former Grant School on the block bounded by Fourth Avenue on the north, Frederick Street on the east, Washington Avenue on the south and Grant Street on the west.
Jeff Rice of Origin Family Home Builders said the developers have heard the concerns of area residents and others that the three-story buildings might not fit, so the company is considering two-story buildings.
The three-story buildings called for a garage on the main floor, living space on the second floor and bedrooms on the third floor. Rice said the two-story building would move the garage away from the rest of the house and utilize planned green space that the three-story building made available.
Mike Ostrowski, Stevens Point community development directors, said the three-story option could require a variance from the building height restrictions because they could be a foot higher than allowed and the two-story version would move closer to the street because they would use more space on the 25- and 30-foot lot widths.
Gary Curless, a commission member, said he saw examples of Origin’s two-story buildings in Green Bay and he liked them better than the three-story, but he’d like to see larger lot widths.
Rice said narrow lot widths were dictated by the space available and the economic feasibility of the project based on those lot sizes. Fewer lots available because of large lots would make the project economically unfeasible, he said.
Sandra Plaza, a neighbor to the project, said her biggest fear is the three-story building because she doesn’t feel they will fit into the neighborhood. The additional 20 families will also bring a lot more vehicles to park, competing with existing residents, she said, adding another fear is that city officials aren’t listening to her concerns.
She also voiced concerns about the 20-foot wide buildings on the lots, calling them skinny, with no basements.
Ryan Bair, another neighbor, said his main concern is the traffic that the additional 20 units will generate in the neighborhood, which has prompted him to consider moving from the area.
Pam Skalski, another neighbor, said she likes the idea of the two-story buildings and appreciates that they will be closer to the street, but she thinks the lot sizes should be larger.
Two other neighbors, Jeremy Solin and James Kosmalski, said they agreed with the development, and Kosmalski said many young people don’t want large lawns.
Neighbor Trevor Roark said he’s looking forward to the development because the city needs in-fill projects to reduce urban sprawl. The neighborhood needs diversity, he said, indicating he wished more small businesses like the Stevens Point Co-op would develop in neighborhoods.
Dan Hoppe, another commission member, said he agrees with the project because neighborhoods need diversity. He lives in an older neighborhood of the city and said no two houses in the neighborhood are alike.