August 18, 2016

Join us: Planning and Zoning @ 6 p.m.

Tonight the City will discuss the proposed urban development (PUD) at the ChinaOne location.  Please don't forget to attend to have your voice heard.   Meeting is at 1551 East Martin Luther King Parkway.

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The WHO submitted this letter to the City:


July 29, 2016
                                                                                                                    
To: City of Des Moines
From: Woodland Heights Organization
RE: Proposed Planned Unit Development at 2301 Ingersoll

On Monday, July 25, 2016, the Woodland Heights Organization (WHO) held a special neighborhood meeting to discuss the proposal submitted by Roers Investments for 2301 Ingersoll Avenue (China One).  During our meeting, neighbors discussed:
·         What makes our neighborhood great, unique, special?
·         How does the plan help the neighborhood?
·         What in the plan doesn’t work for the neighborhood?
·         What if any changes must / should be made to the plan?

After much discussion, the WHO voted and we are not in support of the proposed PUD project (that was up-to-date as of July 25, 2016). 

Areas of Concern
Under the current proposed plan, many in the neighborhood feel there are four key areas that need to be reconsidered.  We ask the city to consider these objections during the PUD input process:
1.       Population to Parking Ratio is Too Low.  As voiced in our earlier meeting on June 21, 2016 with Roers Investments, there is concern about the high number of units (and that none were owner-occupied) in the plan.  Additional density brings challenges – for traffic, parking and safety.  We’d like to:
a.       See the number of apartments substantially reduced and parking areas increased. 
b.      Understand the shared parking discussions with Mediacom – especially as it relates to snow ordinance parking concerns.
c.       Get better insight into the 24 hour car moving requirement for city street and/or right-of-ways.
d.      See single family homes on High Street maintain similar character traits and placement that is in the rest of the neighborhood. 
2.       Safety.  The number of units being in the proposed plan creates traffic and safety concerns for residents – especially on streets adjacent to the proposed development.  We encourage the city to conduct traffic monitoring and look for ways to minimize disruption to residents.  Our neighbors cited walkability, neighborhood safety and being a family-friendly community as key attributes that make Woodland Heights “great.” Higher traffic counts on Woodland and High streets can reduce home values.
3.       Lack of Owner-Occupied Housing.  The neighborhood has tried to maintain a good balance of rental- versus owner-occupied dwellings.  We have found that owner-occupied dwellings have helped stabilize the community and property values.   Our character plan from 2014 continues to support this desire that was originally put in our 1991 plan.
4.       Insufficient Greenspace.  Our neighbors are proud of our community nestled in a “main corridor” of the city.  The current plan should be analyzed for opportunities to infuse green spaces, natural landscaping and more trees that are in line with neighborhood character.

While the WHO appreciates the opportunities and advantages a proposal like this brings to the neighborhood, we want to sure it meets the needs of our residents and enhances the long-term vitality of the neighborhood. We want to protect the attributes that make our neighborhood great, such as walkability, family friendly, diversity of residents, architecture and businesses, lush landscape and safety.   

Many of our neighbors will be in attendance for the Planning and Zoning and City Council meetings that will feature this topic.




July 25, 2016

Brainstorming .. In Process - Join Us!

We'll be at the Mickle Center until 7:45 p.m. answering these questions:

1 - What makes our neighborhood great, unique special?

2 - How does the plan help the neighborhood?

3 - What in the plan doesn’t work for the neighborhood?


4 - What if anything must / should be proposed to be changed in the plan? 

There's still time to join the conversation. Kids welcome.


Join Us .. Meeting Starts in 10 Minutes

Make sure your views are expressed for the Ingersoll development proposal.  We'll be voting on the neighborhood's position by the end of the meeting.


July 24, 2016

IMPORTANT: Meeting on Monday, 7/25 a 6:30 p.m.





The neighborhood is meeting at the Mickle Center to discuss the proposed development to China One.  The city has received initial plans from the investment firm & it's our opportunity to share our position. 


Here's notes from our meeting last month: http://whodesmoines.blogspot.com/2016/07/thanks-for-attending.html


Please make plans to attend:


Mickle Center
6:30 p.m. we will adjourn by 8:00 p.m.


See you there!

Thanks for attending!

There was a great turnout from the neighborhood to listen to the development ideas for the location of China One.   We had over 55 neighbors in attendance - we loved the turnout! Thank you for showing your support of the neighborhood!



Below is the agenda and a lot of notes from the meeting.


Agenda
I.     Call to order -5 minutes
II.     WHO Board Open Position Announcements -5 minutes

  • Chair-Open (Accepting Nominations)
  • Vice-Chair: (Dough McBride, Nominated)
III.     Update from our DSM partners (building inspections, law enforcement) -10 minutes
  • None available; contacts were not able to attend the meeting.
IV.     Plans for Neighborhood Night Out in August  (1st Tuesday in August)- 5 minutes
  • Looking for volunteers to host; sent around sign-up sheet.
V.     Overview of a development plans along Ingersoll Corridor

WHO: Claudia gave an overview of the current neighborhood plan (developed in 2013 with over 16 hours of meetings;  survey). Main focus was to understand the uniqueness of Woodland Heights (single family homes, but in an urban community – MLK/Ingersoll); want to keep pedestrian friendly; access to amenities; really believe home ownership helps – wanted owner occupied dwellings; beautification 

Ingersoll General (Matt) 

Development for Ingersoll corridor timeline:
  • 1998 – effort by Susie McBroom; neighborhood leaders – wanted a streetscape plan to create a better environment for residents; businesses
  • By 2004 – plan approved; development potential (MLK to 42nd Street) 
  • By 2008 – First phase (pilot project) 28 to 31st street completed; group felt that execution was slow; much left to do
  • By 2012 - Strategy was then written to complete the plan (business owners, property owners; major institutions, neighborhoods, etc.) involved in that process – 11 neighborhoods; 7 which touch Ingersoll. Financial model developed – established a TIF district - commercial properties.  After 3 years of close monitoring by DSM city and county – TIF district was officially approved (Part 1) – build it.  Part 2 – maintenance and ongoing promotion of district and capital improvements (public art, grant programs, economic development, etc.)
  • Mixed use nature for Ingersoll – available on city of Des Moines website.  www.theavenuesdsm.com (end of July launch) to provide marketing info. For /communities – gets you to plans for neighborhoods and Ingersoll
Mike Ludwig – City Planning 15 years with city
  • Growth in downtown has been significant. 
  • Want to learn from that success; revitalize neighborhoods and corridors.
  • 18 month planning effort – followed up on the ‘tomorrow plan’ from a regional plan.
  • Concept of nodes and coordinator development.  When meeting with city council around comprehensive planning for the city – wanted to implement regional principals locally in our comprehensive plan.
  • Ingersoll is envy of other areas of corridors in the city.  They are trying to learn lessons from Ingersoll success.
  • Housing/density of properties; commercial success – residential dentist around it can support (Ingersoll used to be a trolley path) – always had public transit, always dense (100 units/acre of apt. buildings)
  • Corridors are front door to the neighborhood and vitality of the neighborhoods.
  • City would like to see improved density, mixed use for Ingersoll properties.  Good for city, good for neighborhood; want to make sure it’s compatible with neighborhood (southern portion of property for density), but northern side more residential and architectural compatible that is part of High street (row houses, etc.)
  • Plan is not yet approved or submitted; believe there is a lot of common ground within the plan.  For quality and development in this area then there are
  • City Traffic Engineering is here to answer questions too.
Mike answered some questions:
  • What about zoning issues?  Nothing has formally been submitted.  Need to look at rezoning.  Current zoning requirements have been in place since the 90s; in process of re-writing – could see having a new district apply around Ingersoll; has helped prevent auto orientated development.  Because of the density is consistent with comprehensive plan; but more than the current zoning. 
  • What are we going to put on south side of high street? Recommended row houses, but not anything compared to “Hubbell” structures on MLK more consistent with bricksone in Sherman Hill (3 story) Example: Dahls on Ingersoll –what should be built on the back of the property?  Started with housing, but ended with back of commercial building; Do want to consider residential for backing up to High Street.
  • What is the current zoning?  1 dwelling unit per 2000 (56 units); city council has routinely granted more density by city council.  1991 – Character Plan; even though we wanted residential; home owner occupied on high street – recommended at that time to take out multiplex … to single housing. 
  • What about our character plan?  Believe this is being followed.  That plan has called for commercial development on this property. Never had a plan for single-housing within this area.  This is a mixed use opportunity.  It’s consistent.  And have learned a lot of lessons around appropriate density and what works. Ingersoll and DSM are urban and need to accept and recognize our urban (comp plan talks about).  That’s strength and build upon that.   We can save money by using existing structures; tax base – city can help provide more services or lower taxes.  Good maximum use of site. Current use is underutilized.
  • Traffic? Density is appropriate with transit opportunities; bike roads; close to downtown this is a good plan.  Traffic needs to be looked at as part of the proposal.
  • Where there other offers?  In general, fast food, convenient stores, gas stores, etc.  But, this is the best I’ve seen.  No one was ever able to reach terms with property owner.  This the best proposal development submitted for the property.  Encourage open mind; open dialogue.  They have come to you before going to DSM.  This is unique; requested.  
Roers Investment - Developers from MN
7:37 p.m.: Proposal;

 

Who they are: We love the neighborhood; want to make an investment in the neighborhood. They are not local, but are from MN.  Owners came to the meeting to hear from residents.  They typically own 15 to 20% of buildings; then bring in local community investors.  Other examples of their investments in Des Moines (will invest $100 million with DSM this year): 
  • Confluence – building 211 units there (by El Bait shop) – came through worked through land owner and buy that land.  Turned into high dollar site, create communities (pools, hot tubs, etc.); it’s where it fits in.   Downtown project is $45 million project.
  • Flats/Warren properties in West Des Moines.


The China One project is estimated at $35 million investment. To get started with their proposal they have looked at the Ingersoll plan, the city plan and the neighborhood plan.  At an earlier meeting with the neighborhood they took away a few concerns they wanted to address: 
  • Ingersoll – urban corridor – trying to push that plan
  • Woodland Heights – trying to protect character, people, safety  ... and to know what's in it for me
Safety – don’t know if we can stop people from High street traffic; but looking at options and will work with city.

 
·       Sense of community – would like to partner with NNO; WHO; wants us to be proud of the development. invite you onto properties, want you to be proud
·       
     What’s in it for me?  Tax dollars go to schools, this development will help raise a tax base.  Brings more revenue to the community.  In your survey (for the character plan):
  •         52 individuals – vacant properties most concerned about; we see this as an out of date building and vacant.  We bought the land. 
  •         48 people – property up keep – trying to bring in high scale building.  Not low budget properties.
·      We captured concerns and want to address them, they started with:

·         Partnering early on with city with project.  Understood Ingersoll/Grand plan.
·         Took a look at Ingersoll today; what works; single story – up to street scape “small town neighborhood” feel
o   2 retail buildings (single story, local restaurants, unique shops, etc.); then a large u shape building to improve efficiencies (with heated parking underneath); backside is a 3 story building with walk ability, brickstone project look/feel (this is on high street to provide a buffer to the family environment and parking
o   7th site plan – based on feedback from business owners, city, homeowners
o   24th street main access (what about traffic) – modified based on input
o   Added additional parking – to try and take off residential street to have minimal impact (added 14 stalls – at over 67 stalls for what the plan would typically call for) – total of 235 total parking stalls and 157 units
o   5 stories in the center building
o   How many stalls reserved for residents vs. retail (1 to 1 for apts, over would be used for restaurants); cross parking
§  Underground parking for residents
o   Residents: Taking away parking for snow ordnance – big deal for us – this lot was helpful. 
o   Traffic: Snow removal taken care of different organization.  Neighborhood would need to pursue odd/even parking options.
- What’s the breakdown of the apts/row houses – primarily, studio, 1 bedroom; 2 bedrooms?  – one on high is 3 stories.  3 full stories above ground for apts. How is the proprety?  What is the total elevation of property –
·         Have tried to stay away from garden level
·         Not going to be income redistricted
·         Quality: $200,000 per apt. unit ($35 million) – very nice places that bring in mixture of residents.
o   Neighborhood – not someplace where people want to stay and make it a forever home.  Young people want an urban experience – studio – seeing people stay and needed
o   Zoning district written in 1995 – midpoint selected between two zones. See that changing now from 57 to much higher – esp. next to transit routes; bike lanes.  60 units would be a massive underutilization of property.
o   Requesting tax abatement for 10 years.  Without that abatement these types of projects not viable.
What about owner occupied town homes? 
Not going to be able to appease everyone – but really trying to design the plan – and make it financially viable. 
o   Struggle with the thought of for sale by owner for this property. 
o   Matt had is split into 3 zones, high, medium, low – shifted it such a way that
§  Main issues is a lot of density on Ingersoll, but to make retail to really go – first level retail, specific tenants for ventilation above; not the most flexible. Need to keep retail separate from residential. 
Why can't this be single family housing?  11 units – can’t get it to be financially viable.  It’s one site – owners, renters, parking battles, etc. 
 
Neighbors shared ...
 
  • Need to focus on the high street to work with the neighborhood – really need to work with us; treasure our neighborhood and concerned about parking.
  • Excited about plans – for retail / pedestrian focus /
  • We have some barging chips, we have human capital.  WE are not likely too interested in high end units.  WE have to look at it … this is ours and it’s something that is valuable.  We often don’t have the $ to support our value - 
  • I moved to DSM for properties/development like this.  They are doing the city a favor to develop this content. 
Maybe 20 units removal is too much, but what can we do?  To make this work?
    • Fair housing controls # of housing. 
    • Majority of units is studio, 1 bedroom, jr. suites – people want to live alone.
Can you add additional onsite parking?  20 stalls would really help. 
We are looking to work with Mediacom for shared parking agreement.
  • Build down $200,000 – not numerically possible to add more stalls underneath
  •  450 sq. feet of Studio ; 600 – 650 sq feet other units; sound proof; air variance between units; Laminate; luxury vinyl tile


What is public transportation around site?
-       DART has route 60; long term plan is main stop is right in front of the site plan; Dart will want shelter, etc.
o   Has seen an up increase in this route
o   Great service – easy way for people to get into downtown
-          Know we need to create pedestrian safety as part of this plan
-          Want bike support: 
o   We build bike cafes – social place, place to hang bikes, indoor bike parking, want place to work on bikes, etc.
o   Retail establishments – main has been around to find eclectic properties. Working with local business owners. Are looking for these types of opportunities.
-       How many parking spots would be dedicated to restaurants? Around 50 parking stalls … not dedicating the spots.
-       
    This plan seems like it would increase traffic and concerns?  What can we do to curtail that ?   1 way, speed bumps, etc.

Traffic studies – looking at existing traffic volumes, circulation, pedestrian crossing, all of these types of Patterns will be looked; how it this impacted with this development? 
-          How are they getting in / out?  Key looks … will get consultant.
-          Take these concerns and look at this for the plan.  This study will be done as planning/zoning.
We partner with Schneider and associates … to get at traffic concerns.   Study will used to have DSM city – enforce.    To minimize resident impact.

Back end parking – similar to East Village.  Development team puts something forward, we work to partner with

Review process – staff comments (public hearings on zoning); this will continue to evolve as more formal it gets in property. 



What is the zimeline? 
-          Sale won’t go through September

Intending to submit initial application to city - for rezone request within the next few weeks.  Once that is established, city staff starts to review and additional adjustments based on plan.  Very preliminary right now.

Rezoning – is about 60 to 90 day process.  WE have submittal deadlines (tomorrow, every two weeks) … b/c planning commission meets every 2 weeks – 30 day process, then takes to city council and (3 readings by council) – look at 60 to 90 days of process from the city for plan unit development to be.



2 opportunities to discuss to the current proposal.  Required to let neighborhood know with exact dates.  20 and 10 days of time.  Notify 250 feet of subject property; association.  In this instance, Woodland heights will go. 

8:30 p.m. meeting adjourned.

Resources:

June 15, 2016

Interested in what's going on with China One Buffet?

Ingersoll is bustling!  
Read about the proposed development for Ingersoll here in the Des Moines Register. 

If you're interested in learning more, make plans to attend our June 21st meeting at the Mickle Center (starts at 7:00 p.m.).

We'll discuss the project with the investment firm and reshare our vision from the 2013 Character Plan Study ... 

The residents of Woodland Heights envision a cohesive, aesthetically pleasing,and peaceful neighborhood where families can thrive in a socially diverse,historically significant community that remains connected to its natural setting and surrounding urban environment.

This vision statement is part of the Character Plan study created for our neighborhood. Please become familiar with the character plan here

June 14, 2016

Lets get digital ...

Join your fellow neighbors on these two social media platforms!

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Nextdoor

It's great and quick way to stay in touch!