City vote is victory for Stony Point project

An Atlanta-based developer is another step closer to a breaking ground on an eight-figure apartment project in Richmond.

Over objections from nearby neighborhood associations, a proposed change to the Stony Point Community Unit Plan to allow Wood Partners to build a $40 million, 282-unit apartment complex near Stony Point Fashion Park received unanimous City Council approval Monday.

The 27-acre site sits just north of the Dilliard’s store at the Southside mall, near a handful of neighborhoods along Cherokee and Saratoga roads. The community unit plan previously called for an office park and up to 15,000 square feet of restaurant use at the site.

Wood Partners is under contract to purchase the property from Taubman, the company that developed Stony Point Fashion Park about 10 years ago. The proposed apartment complex would include four buildings standing three to four stories tall and a handful of smaller carriage units.

Alta Stony Point, as the project is called, has drawn criticism from its neighbors. Several residents spoke at Monday’s meeting, raising concerns about apartment complex buffers, the project’s density and the round-the-clock nature of a residential project.

“Office workers go home every night, they go home on the weekends, they go home on the holidays,” Cherokee Road resident Vicki Wilson said. “[This is] like dropping another neighborhood right in the middle of our neighborhood.”

Andrew Condlin, a Roth Doner Jackson attorney representing Wood Partners, said the company has taken steps to mitigate the effect on nearby neighborhoods, including providing a 180-foot buffer surrounding most of the development.

Condlin has also argued that the apartment complex would be less intrusive than a potential office park use currently authorized for the property.

Council member Kathy Graziano, who represents the Stony Point area, said the developer made concessions concerning the buffer zone that a potential office development would not have made.

“If you had an office, you would have a 100-foot buffer and a parking lot,” she said.

However, Gene Winter of the Saratoga Area Neighborhood Association noted in an October interview that an office park development with potential restaurant uses could be an asset to the neighborhood.

“It’s not acres of black asphalt with no landscaping – any credible office developer would want to put in a quality setting around this property,” he said. “People will go over there and walk their dogs, enjoy the weekend, enjoy the evenings.”

The planning commission voted 6-3 to recommend approval of the ordinance at its Oct. 7 meeting. Because the developer is seeking a change in the community unit plan, Wood Partners will have to go back to the city’s planning commission for final approval on the project. In rezoning cases and special use permits, Richmond City Council grants final approval.

Wood Partners hopes to break ground on the project in summer 2014. The planned complex will be the company’s first development in the Richmond area.

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