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Springfield needs more housing, and several members of the Springfield City Council called a proposal for 14 one-bedroom apartments west of Mercy Hospital on Cherokee Street just what the city needs.

The developer, One Hundred Two Glenstone Inc., wants to rezone lots containing four single-family homes along East Cherokee Street between Hampton Avenue and the TownePlace Suites at National Avenue and Cherokee to medium-density multifamily housing. Plans call for a two-story building with 725-square-foot one-bedroom apartments, with 22 parking spaces behind the building on the lots, which total about 0.7 acres.

The development proposal was seen as both a way to realize the gradual transition between more intensive and commercial uses and single-family homes, and to meet the need for housing in the “missing middle.” “Missing middle” describes housing that lies between densely populated apartments and single-family homes, such as duplexes and terraced houses, a need highlighted in the city’s housing study.

The Springfield City Council will consider a request to rezone several properties in the 1100 East Cherokee Street area from single-family homes to medium-density multifamily housing.The Springfield City Council will consider a request to rezone several properties in the 1100 East Cherokee Street area from single-family homes to medium-density multifamily housing.

The Springfield City Council will consider a request to rezone several properties in the 1100 East Cherokee Street area from single-family homes to medium-density multifamily housing.

P&Z and Council disagree about the value of the development

When the project came before the Planning and Zoning Commission in mid-June, commissioners said the approach was not “softened enough.” They recommended rejection in a 2-5 vote, with one commissioner absent and one not voting. To them, the rationale was similar to that highlighted by the property’s neighbors in their comments at the neighborhood meeting before the hearing – a preference for low-density development over medium-density development.

But for many council members, the difference between the two zonings was negligible. Daniel Richards of Lee Engineering said a simple rezoning to medium density would have allowed a maximum of 20 units, but the developer is asking for only 14 to integrate the apartments into the neighborhood while still making them economically viable.

“This is more housing in our community that we desperately need,” said City Councilor Brandon Jenson. “At the end of the day, we just need housing in our city.”

Renderings of the proposed medium-density multifamily housing development on Cherokee Street, just west of Mercy Hospital.Renderings of the proposed medium-density multifamily housing development on Cherokee Street, just west of Mercy Hospital.

Renderings of the proposed medium-density multifamily housing development on Cherokee Street, just west of Mercy Hospital.

Additionally, the rezoning includes aesthetic elements and conditional overbuilding to address neighborhood concerns and integrate the development into the neighborhood. Residences will be limited to two stories and require a six-foot-high solid wood fence along the southern property line adjacent to the single-family homes.

While Councilman Craig Hosmer expressed concerns about the transition between single-family homes and multifamily housing, his colleagues saw it as an opportunity to expand and diversify the city’s aging housing stock. With many single-family homes in Springfield currently rented, Councilman Abe McGull emphasized that developments like these can provide more options for renters while opening up single-family housing to those looking to own.

“We want the integration of individuals that makes neighborhoods less homogenous,” said Councilwoman Monica Horton. “I think it’s a slam dunk that this particular development is so close to Mercy, so this is exactly the kind of workforce housing we need.”

Renderings of the rear of the proposed medium-density multifamily development on Cherokee Street, just west of Mercy Hospital, which includes covered parking.Renderings of the rear of the proposed medium-density multifamily development on Cherokee Street, just west of Mercy Hospital, which includes covered parking.

Renderings of the rear of the proposed medium-density multifamily development on Cherokee Street, just west of Mercy Hospital, which includes covered parking.

More: Planning and Zoning rejects “missing center” housing proposal due to population density concerns

Both Horton and Jenson encouraged the developer to offer housing for people of all income levels. The developer is also behind Latoka Flats, similar apartments north of the Cherokee properties. Jenson asked the developer to set fair-market rent rates, which are set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. Latoka had set them higher, he discovered.

Other than the developer’s representatives, no members of the public spoke about the proposal at P&Z or the council on Monday evening. The neighborhood meeting with the developer was scheduled for December 13, 2023.

The council will vote on the rezoning at its next meeting on July 22.

Marta Mieze covers local politics for the News-Leader. Do you have feedback, tips or story ideas? Contact her at [email protected].

This article originally appeared in the Springfield News-Leader: Housing proposal gets support from Springfield City Council