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Big apartment project looms

Developers of a proposed 245-unit apartment complex planned for the Twin Creeks transit-oriented project say they’re ready to begin construction as soon as final approval is granted.

The Central Point Planning Commission will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday for final deliberations after a handful of neighbors raised objections.

The proposed development, named Smith Crossing, calls for 17 buildings on two tracts of land along Haskell Street near the intersections of Griffin Oaks and Richardson Drive. Nearby neighbors voiced concerns over traffic impact, lack of notice to residents, “demographics” and other issues.

City officials and the founder of the Twin Creeks development, Bret Moore, say developer PMCI Inc. has more than met design standards and building requirements and that the much-needed residential units have been in the plans for the Twin Creeks community since it was planned 16-plus years ago.

Community Development Director Tom Humphrey said the final meeting would take place this week with no further public testimony, after officials allowed an additional week of public input.

Project applicant Milo Smith said great care was taken to design the upscale apartment project to complement existing development within Twin Creeks.

Central Point City Council unanimously approved Twin Creeks Development in 2001 after an 18-month public process involving annexing approximately 200 acres zoned for a variety of uses. To date, the project has seen the construction of single-family units, apartments for low-income seniors and an assisted-living facility.

Smith said his company had designed Smith Crossing to be “even more upscale” than existing developments and to mesh with surrounding parts of Twin Creeks.

The 17 buildings will include adequate parking, a clubhouse, pool and playground, with rents ranging from $650 to $1,050.

“I think the neighbors who spoke up are mostly concerned with traffic, and I think they’re just scared because they don’t know what to expect, but I think it’s going to be a lot better than they expect. Our project is designed to be very upscale and to fit in out there with that whole Twin Creeks neighborhood,” Smith said.

“There’s a huge need for housing in the Rogue Valley. Our other projects have had a near-zero vacancy for quite some time," he said. "The property we’re building on has been zoned for apartments like ours since 2001. Neighbors say they didn’t know it was coming, but it’s in the original master plan. I don’t know what neighbors would want, but if it weren’t us building then it would be the next person down the line.”

Smith said a new development the company built along West Main Street was at full capacity two months before it opened.

“If we had a building in Twin Creeks right now, we would have our units rented. We don’t advertise. There are just people, all the time, coming through the door at Charles Point, who need a place to live. What we’re proposing is going to be even more upscale than Charles Point, and it’s something that is badly needed.”

The original developer of Twin Creeks, Bret Moore, said he was surprised by letters submitted to the city.

Of three residents who submitted letters, none returned calls to the Mail Tribune. Moore said the Smith Crossing project was a high-quality addition to Twin Creeks and that concerns expressed by some neighbors about apartment-resident “demographics,” including one neighbor who voiced shock at living amid apartment dwellers, was disconcerting.

Moore applauded PMCI's approach to building and providing onsite management of high-quality developments.

“This type of mixed-use project for Twin Creeks has been planned from the start. There’s obviously a high need in the valley, and these guys provide good quality and they manage the projects themselves,” Moore said.

Moore noted that PMCI had responded to concerns and made changes, including adding parking spaces. Phase 1 will include 100 apartment and townhouse units with 168 parking spaces. Phase 2 will add 145 dwelling units and 252 parking spaces.

Smith said he was eager to keep his construction crews working — providing needed jobs — and to be able to provide much-needed housing. If the project is appealed beyond the city level, the project could see up to a year in delays, Smith said.

“The impact of this taking longer than it has to would be that we would have between 25 and 30 people out of a job and not to mention all the people waiting for places to live,” he said. “If you had 500 or 1,000 apartment units ready tomorrow, they would be rented out within two to three months if not quicker. There’s just a huge need in this valley for places to live.”

Planning Commission members will meet at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall, 140 S. Third St. Find details of the project on the web at www.centralpointoregon.gov/cd/project/smith-crossing-twin-creeks.

— Buffy Pollock is a freelance writer living in Medford. Email her at buffyp76@yahoo.com.

An artist's rendering shows one of the buildings planned at the Twin Creeks development. [Courtesy PMCI Inc.]