Apartment, condo boom advancing in Chandler - SanTan Sun News SanTan Sun News

Apartment, condo boom advancing in Chandler

November 5th, 2020 SanTan Sun News
Apartment, condo boom advancing in Chandler

By Kevin Reagan
Staff Writer

A growing demand for multifamily housing is fueling developers’ plans to add more than 1,000 new apartment and condominium units across Chandler in the near future.
The city Planning and Development Department is currently reviewing several housing projects that could substantially increase Chandler’s inventory of apartments in several different regions of the city.
The projects range from standard three-story apartment buildings to chic single-story homes designed to be shared by multiple families.
All the developments range in size and scope, yet they are all trying to squeeze into some of the last parcels of developable land within the city limits.
Planning Administrator Kevin Mayo said Chandler is simply running out of space to build large, expansive subdivisions like the Fulton Ranch-type projects that dominated the city’s housing market for last couple of decades.
“Those are going away – they’re few and far between now,” Mayo said.
The city has shifted to becoming more strategic, he added, by carefully assessing which projects get greenlighted and where they get developed.
That strategy seems to be focused presently on accommodating the multifamily housing market.
According to housing data tracked by the city, the construction of multifamily housing units has been outpacing single-family home building in Chandler since 2016.
Before the housing market crashed in 2009, builders in Chandler were completing up to 3,500 new single-family homes per year – a number that has since dropped to about 500 homes annually.
By contrast, the rate of new apartments and condos in Chandler has been increasing steadily since 2010.
City officials say the historically low inventory of single-family homes and a sudden flood of new jobs coming into Chandler have created an environment that’s allowed alternative types of housing to thrive.
“The multi-family market is coming in to fill that gap right now especially because we’re running out of large tracts of land,” said Micah Miranda, the city’s economic development director.
Data shows Chandler’s vacancy rate is already low for its current stock of affordable apartments and condos, Miranda added, indicating there’s a strong demand for new developments in the immediate future.
But not everyone in Chandler is thrilled about adding a slew of new multi-family housing projects to the city’s landscape.
“We’re not looking forward to seeing this development come in,” said Wendy Yeager, who lives near Elliot Road and the Loop 101 freeway about a proposed project in her neighborhood.
Yeager’s neighborhood is adjacent to the site of the proposed Village at College Park project, which would add 40 housing units in eight single-story cottages.
The project’s developers describe College Park as a “unique” housing product unlike any other found around Chandler.
Each cottage would include five housing units ranging from one-bedroom studios to three-bedroom apartments and every unit comes with an attached garage.
“The development team for The Village at College Park is confident that the proposed project will be a great addition to the community as it complements the adjacent developments,” developers wrote in city documents.
But neighbors like Yeager are worried College Park’s designs won’t be aesthetically pleasing nor match well with surrounding homes.
Yeager also is concerned about the development interfering with a nearby horse therapy ranch and impacting area roads already congested by the adjacent San Tan Loop 202 Freeway.
“This is going to be a huge, huge increase in traffic,” she added.
College Park is one of several projects expected to be reviewed and possibly approved by the Chandler City Council early this month. Another of those projects is Evergreen, a 396-unit complex under development near Arizona Avenue and Germann Road.
The project’s close proximity to the Chandler Airport has raised concerns about exposing Evergreen’s future tenants to a deluge of continuous flight traffic.
“The property is not located within an airport noise contour and will experience daily overflights from aircraft in the normal traffic pattern,” Airport Administrator Chris Andre wrote in a memo last month.
The Chandler Planning and Zoning Commission denied Evergreen’s request to rezone the land for a multi-family housing project due to its incompatibility with nearby development.
Rick Heumann, the commission’s chairman, specifically objected to taking land away that would be more appropriate for commercial purposes – a trend that he has seen happen before in Chandler and would like to avoid in the future.
“We took land use away that will never come back to employment and that’s my heartburn with this particular case,” Heumann said.
The commission’s denial of the Evergreen project is only considered a recommendation because City Council has final approval on authorizing development matters.
The Villages at Chandler, a 108-unit complex looking to build near Gilbert and Riggs roads, is another project that could be reviewed soon by Council.
The development would consist of several duplexes and triplexes on a 9-acre parcel of land that’s surrounded by housing subdivisions.
Described as a “pocket neighborhood,” the Villages is being pitched by its developers as an intimate community where residents can easily become friends due to their proximity to each other.
“The community design will allow for spontaneity, encourage connections, and lay the foundation for lasting friendships,” the project’s plans state.
Some nearby residents have objected to the construction of a multi-family development in a part of Chandler that’s starved for more retail and commercial projects.
“Once this is approved, we’ll never have the opportunity for retail,” said Christie Brown, who lives near the Villages project site.
Deborah Kehl, another neighbor, prefers keeping the Villages’ land zoned for commercial uses so it can be turned into something that can serve all the surrounding communities.
“I want to see what we thought we were going to see when we bought our house a year ago,” Kehl said.
Kehl and her neighbors have started an online petition in an attempt to thwart the city from rezoning the Villages site for housing developments.
As of Nov. 3, more than 1,300 people have signed Kehl’s petition and many of them expressed dissatisfaction with inviting a large cohort of new residents to their neighborhood.
“I don’t want to have more traffic in this area. More traffic equals more accidents and deaths,” said Anne Martin, one of the residents who signed Kehl’s petition.
Kortney Adelman, another resident, signed the petition because she fears more multi-family housing in this part of Chandler will drive up crime rates.
“We don’t need more apartments in Chandler,” Adelman said. “There are tons of homes being built as it is with tons of rental homes available as well.”
One multifamily project that could benefit residents looking to move into the city’s downtown area is Alta Chandler at the Park, a 293-unit apartment complex that could be built near Alma School Road and Chandler Boulevard.
The land’s owners had originally envisioned developing this site as a 60-acre retail mall full of shops and office buildings. But the demand for new commercial units in this part of Chandler has dried up in recent years, prompting developers to look for new land uses.
“All of the marketing efforts for additional office development on the site have proven unsuccessful,” city documents state. “The prospects for additional office development on the balance of the site are therefore highly unlikely.”
Developers believe the addition of Alta’s four-story apartment buildings – which come with an onsite dog spa and bike shop – would be a major benefit to the existing downtown businesses.
“Adding a luxury multifamily community in the context of the existing uses would be an enhancement not only to the housing options in the area but would also help support the retail uses in the center,” Alta’s developers wrote in a memo.
The Planning and Zoning Commission recently recommended approval of the Alta Chandler’s development plan and the project advances to the council for further review.
Councilman Matt Orlando has said he has some concerns about Alta’s size, describing the project’s scope as “intense.”
He also and worries that the apartment buildings would be too close to other developments.
“I wish it was a little bit smaller – like three stories. I think that would be a little bit more manageable,” Orlando said.

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