4-29-21 Athens Zones for Apartments Quality Inn.JPG

CUTLINE:

Rich Flowers/staff

A zoning change allowing a developer to convert the vacant Quality Inn on State Highway 31 East to efficiency apartments won approval from the Athens City Council Monday. The change would also allow a restaurant and coffee shop.

The Athens City Council agreed to a zoning change that will allow a developer to convert the old Quality Inn property into efficiency apartments.

The 4-1 vote, with Mayor Monte Montgomery opposed, changes the zoning from commercial to multi-family use.

Paul Yazbeck from Profectus Multifamily Capital, LLC said with the zoning change approval they may be able to close on the property by late May.

Audrey Sloan, Director of Development Services explained when the item was presented for a first reading on April 12, the applicant is proposing to convert the property for multi-family use with a restaurant or coffee shop. The proposal is to keep the 122 dwelling units in their current configuration but convert them into efficiency apartment units. The average square footage per dwelling unit would be 288 square feet. Letters of notification were mailed to the 18 surrounding property owners within 200 feet. One approval and two protests were returned.

“I do have some updates from the last meeting,” Sloan said. “The applicants have provided a document that outlines the qualifying credit criteria and requirements for the tenants.”

Sloan said, at the direction of City Manager Elizabeth Borstad, the Code Enforcement Officer spoke with code officers in Killeen and Copperas Cove, where the applicants have multi-family properties.

“If was found they have no active code violations,” she said.

The code officer viewed the exterior of those properties and did not see any easily visible problems.

After numerous comments when the item was up for a public hearing on April 12, Mayor Montgomery opened the meeting Monday to more public comment.

One of the most common concerns was the possible transient quality of the tenants. Another was there is not a sufficient barrier separating the property from neighboring properties.

“A lot of different types of tenants will be attracted to this property, whether they’re young, old or in-between,” Yazbeck said.

Councilman Aaron Smith said many of the concerns could be alleviated by good management and good security.

Councilman Robert Gross said the vote Monday was for the zoning change and not on the business as planned.

“However what they have presented tonight gives me some comfort,” he said.

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