Fayetteville P&Z recommends denial of 63 rental cottages downtown

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Map shows proposed rental cottage proposal in downtown Fayetteville. Graphic/City of Fayetteville.
Map shows proposed rental cottage proposal in downtown Fayetteville. Graphic/City of Fayetteville.

An Oct. 22 request by the developer of HearthSide Club Lafayette to establish 63 age-restricted (55 and older) rental cottage units along Ga. Highway 54 West at Lafayette Avenue near Fayette County High School was unanimously recommended for denial by the Fayetteville Planning and Zoning Commission.

The Cottages at Lafayette request by OneStreet Residential would have a 63-unit age-restricted (55 years and up), cottage development established on the 8.13-acre site situated immediately west of HearthSide Club Lafayette, an age-restricted, senior development with 125 apartments, which is also a OneStreet development.

The property was previously zoned in 2014 for a 30-unit memory care building, a 60-unit assisted living building and 24 single-family independent living homes, totaling 114 units in all.

OneStreet said the intent was to modify the current development agreement to provide a less intense, active adult community. The current development plan carries a density of 14 units per acre, while the detached and semi-detached cottage proposal carries a density of 7.75 units per acre.

Commenting on the company’s adjacent HearthSide development, OneStreet Development Director Deke Rochester said the apartments opened in May and are currently 94 percent leased.

The proposed cottages, of which many contain more than one unit, would target discretionary renters, those who can afford to buy but choose to rent, Rochester said. The cottages would average approximately 1,600 sq. ft. with an average rent of $2,410, he said.

By way of comparison, the adjacent Meridian at Lafayette Apartments come with a price of $1,695 for a 2-bedroom apartment totaling 1,201 sq. ft., while a 3-bedroom totaling 1,369 sq. ft. comes with a rental price of $1,850.

Featuring 1- and 2-story designs, 48 cottages would include attached garages, with the remainder offering driveway or surface parking.  The exterior grounds would include walking trails, resident gardens, pet areas and grilling stations, OneStreet said.

Architecturally, the cottages would look similar to the adjacent Village at Lafayette subdivision, Rochester said.

The company’s letter of intent said the proposed use for the property would produce less traffic than the current development plan and should have little or no impact on surrounding schools.

The city planning staff recommendation said the proposal is consistent with the goals, objectives and strategies associated with the housing component of the comprehensive plan; is consistent with the walkable mixed use character area identified within the comprehensive plan; provides for a reduction in the total number of residential units originally approved for the property; complements the existing age-restricted independent living facility to the east; and, provides an innovative and creative housing option for aging adults within the community.

Commissioners after the presentation weighed-in on the proposal, with Chairman Sarah Murphy saying she had problem with the units being rentals.

Commissioner Brett Nolan said the concept was beautiful, except that a 40-year-old professional could not live there.

Commissioner Ken Collins responded, concerned that the site might become condos in the future.

Commissioner Debi Renfroe said the price for the rentals was high, and questioned functionality of having two-story cottages for people age 55 and older.

Commissioner Joe Clark said all but a few of the units are single-family, with the remainder being duplexes or fourplexes, adding that it would be better if the units were available for purchase.

Commissioner Toby Spencer in his comments agreed with the statements of the other commissioners.

Just prior to the unanimous vote to recommend that the City Council deny the request, OneStreet Managing Partner Brendan Barr reiterated that the site is currently approved for 114 units rather than the 63 being proposed, adding that the 114 units currently approved would also be rentals.

Pertaining to the layout, Barr said the market today includes people who want a second story for guests and home offices.

Barr said the development is targeting a different type of resident.

“This is a different cohort. It’s not one size fits all,” said Barr.