Rehab of Hill Street School gets thumbs-up at Council’s February 8 meeting
Members of the Globe City Council: Mayor Al Gameros, Vice Mayor Mike Stapleton (District 4), and Council members Freddy Rios (District 1), Mike Pastor (District 2), Jesse Leetham (District 3), Mariano Gonzalez (District 5), and Fernando Shipley (District 6). All members were in attendance at this meeting except Councilman Shipley.
Hill Street School could become affordable apartments for seniors, obstacles remain
Council approved a request to rezone the Hill Street School, at 450 S. Hill Street, overriding a Planning and Zoning Commission recommendation to deny the request. The move comes after a proposal from a developer to convert the building into affordable housing for seniors.
The developer, Gorman & Company, reduced the number of apartment units to 64 (from 70) and increased parking (slightly) in mitigating some of the objections raised before the Planning and Zoning Commission.
The approval of the Planned Area Development Overlay Zoning District to the existing C-3 Central Commercial Zoning District. The Overlay Zoning District is designed to maintain the walkable character and historic feel of downtown.
The developer also requested to reduce the minimum required setbacks at the front and street sides of the building, and also requested no requirement for parking.
Before the development goes forward, the site plan will come back before Council to ensure that issues brought up by the public and council members are resolved. At that time, Council will have input into the appearance of the building.
Benefits to City include housing, downtown gateway
If it proceeds, the development at Hill Street School would double the number of affordable units that are available to seniors, according to Globe’s Planning and Zoning Administrator, Dana Burkhardt.
Mayor Al Gameros commented that the project aligns with the housing element of Globe’s strategic plan and general plan.
Linda Oddonetto, Globe’s Director of Economic and Community Development, said has the city has a need for housing units across all market segments. She pointed out that housing represents a barrier for the development of local business, and that Globe’s housing shortage hampers the ability to attract new employers and new employees.
Councilman Rios pointed out that although the number of units is not large, it will be “a step in the right direction.”
Burkhardt said the school is in a unique location where five different zoning districts come together. It would be convenient to restaurants, physical therapy, groceries, transit stops, and several churches.
The development would also transform a deteriorating – but prominent – building that currently makes a poor first impression when visitors enter the city from the south. Improving the building would help create an attractive gateway at that end of Globe.
“We cannot continue to allow this building to deteriorate or for visitors to pass through [and not stop] because of these unkempt buildings.” Linda Oddonetto, Director of Economic and Community Development
Plans call for construction of an additional building
Gorman and Co. is proposing to convert the old school to an apartment complex in the shape of an L, with the addition of a newly constructed building running east-to-west where the parking lot is now. The primary entrance would be on S. Devereaux Street at the southwest corner of the intersection with Maple.
A pocket park would be located in the V between the two buildings, which would bring some green to that block and make the buildings more visually attractive.
Gorman’s design calls for 26 units located in the historical building and 38 in the new building. According to Dan Clocke, Gorman’s project manager, the second building is necessary because the school itself, due to its physical structure, can’t accommodate enough units to make a development feasible.
“Clearly, this building has incredible importance to this community.” Dan Klocke, Gorman and Co.
As to amenities for residents, Klocke said the development would have an exercise facility, including possibly a walking path inside the gym (using the school’s the existing track), as well as community gathering spaces and computer rooms.
Klocke said some of the amenities of the development could potentially be opened up to serve the local community.
The units in the new building would have their own washers and dryers. Gorman is still working on whether it will be possible to put washers and dryers in the units located in the school building.
City Engineer Jerry Barnes said the City has plenty of sewer and water capacity to accommodate the development.
Building to provide affordable housing for seniors, not subsidized housing
According to the developer’s representative, Sally Schwenn, the complex would provide affordable housing for seniors. She said this is not the same as subsidized housing. Affordable housing means people qualify by showing they earn no more than 60% of the local average income. But they also have to show they earn enough that the rent is no more than 30% of their income.
Schwenn emphasized that the Hill Street School proposal is not a subsidized housing project.
Schwenn also said the development would remain affordable housing for at least 30 years, according to state regulations. This would continue to be true even if Gorman sells the property.
Units to be earmarked for seniors – and possibly teachers
Dan Klocke said Gorman intends to fill at least 80% of the units with seniors 55 and over.
This would leave 13 apartments available for other renters who meet the financial guidelines.
Gorman is also speaking with GUSD about the possibility of setting aside six to eight units for teacher housing. These particular units would be priced at “workforce” pricing, according toKlocke. This means their rents would be higher than the other units in the complex and would fit the budget of people who earn around the average income for the area.
All renters would have to pass credit checks, criminal background checks, and previous landlord checks, as well as provide their employment history. All renters would have to be U.S. citizens.
Parking primary bone of contention
Parking was a focal point of discussion on the proposal.
The developer’s site plan has no parking on the property. Renters would use street parking in the neighborhood.
Dan Klocke says 39 street parking spaces are currently available, off-site, which is enough to meet code requirements. However, Gorman also is looking at the potential of adding parking on Maple and Hill streets.
Globe’s City Engineer, Jerry Barnes, said he feels the City could create more parking in the area by restriping the streets. This might also improve the situation for the business owners in the area, Barnes said.
Barnes said he thinks the number of spots could be increased to 50 without much trouble, and that if all the spaces in the immediate area were counted, the total would probably be above one spot per unit.
According to Dana Burkhardt, all of the buildings surrounding the school have their own adequate off-street parking, with the exception of one four-unit building next to Nurd Berger. Burkhardt said the City could, if necessary, post on-street parking limitations and could also create an on-street parking code that requires on-street parking permits.
Barnes also suggested asking Cobre Valley Transit to add a bus stop on Devereaux, which he thought they would be happy to do.
Barnes said he didn’t see any issues with the development that couldn’t be solved.
“I’m opposed to vacant buildings and I’m opposed to not having development come into the city. I approve that everything here is doable.” City Engineer Jerry Barnes
With regard to traffic issues around the Hill Street School and Globe High, commenters during the public hearing expressed some concern about having elderly people and high-school drivers operating in the same area. There was also concern about the volume of traffic during peak times at the beginning and ending of the school day.
Addressing those concerns, Barnes said a traffic study was done some years ago, and at that time a light with four-way video detection was installed at Hill and Ash. As a result, he said, that intersection should be able to accommodate any increase in traffic.
Dana Burkhardt said he felt the development would most likely not create a significant impact on traffic safety.
Chief Walters sees development as a bite out of crime
Police Chief Dale Walters said in its current state, the school is a beacon for crime, and he feels that the new development would actually reduce crime in the area.
Chief Walters said in his experience in another city, he actually saw lower crime rates in project housing, due to that city’s “crime free” housing requirement. This requirement meant tenants would lose their housing subsidy if they were involved in crime or even if they had a known criminal visit their apartment.
Walters said, “That simple rule change did more to fight crime in my prior city than any other single thing that law enforcement did.”
Renters at the Hill Street School complex would have to pass a background check and criminal record check. Shelly Schwenn said Gorman will install a state-of-the-art camera security system in the property.
Mayor Gameros said he had opposed the low-income development behind Wendy’s because of fears of crime, but he pointed out that that development has caused no issues with crime or traffic in the area.
Gorman and Company to manage and maintain property
Sally Schwenn, the Gorman rep, said Gorman would manage the property itself, including leasing, management, and maintenance for the property. And due to the financing method involved, Gorman would remain the owner of the project for at least 15 years.
Gorman and Company is based in Madison, Wisconsin, with offices around the country, and its stated mission is to revitalize communities through innovative housing partnerships. The company was founded in 1984 and has been operating in Arizona for 13 years. According to Schwenn, it currently has more than 1,500 units, and has over 2,000 more in the pipeline for development.
Schwenn said Gorman’s properties look just like market-rate developments.
Linda Oddonetto and Councilman Leetham toured three Gorman properties recently and came away impressed. Oddonetto said one of these developments was ten years old and had “not a scuff on the wall.” She said they had a beautiful look, were very well kept, and had an inviting smell.
Leetham said he was very impressed by the cleanliness of the facilities, that the residents were happy to be living there, and that Gorman manages its properties itself. He said the buildings feel like communities where residents know each other.
Dan Clocke, Gorman’s project manager, lives in Phoenix and is the chair of the Phoenix Historical Preservation Commission. Klocke said Gorman understands the special role of the Hill Street School building in Globe’s history and as a gateway to the downtown. He said Gorman has experience with similar projects, having converted eight other schools around the country.
Schwenn herself has local roots in Globe-Miami: her mother and uncle grew up in Miami, her grandfather worked in the mines, and her mother was married in the Episcopal Church down the street from Hill Street School. She said this gives her a sentimental connection with the project.
Project meets with mixed public comment
The request for rezoning had already been through a public hearing process before it came before Council this evening. The City held a citizen review meeting and a public hearing in January, and the P&Z Commission has also discussed the proposal.
According to Dana Burkhardt, approximately 33 members of the public were in attendance at the hearings. He said 12 people expressed opposition and three expressed support. The opponents had a number of concerns, including parking, traffic safety, and crime.
Some people also were concerned about residents of the development having views into the houses surrounding the property, and some had concerns about building affordable housing versus market-rate housing.
During this evening’s public comment period, several Globe residents spoke in person, mostly in opposition. Opponents raised a large number of issues, centering on parking, traffic, and crime.
Several residents also submitted written comments, mostly expressing support of the project.
Mayor Gameros supports project, acknowledges concerns
Mayor Gameros spoke in support of the development, expressing confidence in being able to work out the issues that had been raised.
Speaking to the issue of traffic safety, Mayor Gameros said it is a concern, but he feels that if the City, the school, and the developer work together, it can be made safer.
Mayor Gameros said many developers have tried to rehab the school in the past, but none of them were able to come up with the money needed – upwards of $20 million. Gameros said having a developer willing to come to the table with the funding needed is “not going to happen again.”
“We’ll never get this opportunity again,” Gameros said.
“I think this project would be amazing for our community. I think we do have some concerns that can be worked out, but we have time to do that.” Mayor Al Gameros
Council selects redistricting map
Moving forward on the redistricting process that was discussed at Council’s last meeting, Council selected a proposed new map. The redistricting will apply beginning in 2024.
Council agreed to select map alternative 103. This map will be published on the City’s website. The matter will come back before Council on February 22 for final approval.
Shelly Salazar reminded Council that the City is being required to redistrict and that a consultant produced three proposed maps. She also said the City has learned that the redistricting will not go into effect until the 2024 election process. However, the City will continue to go forward with the process, as the deadline to complete it is still in July of this year.
Council moves forward on replacement of Connie’s Bridge
Council approved moving forward with an advertisement for bids for replacing Upper Pinal Creek Bridge (Connie’s Bridge). Jerry Barnes explained that the City has raised over $4 million for this project, and it will be the first bridge the City has replaced in over 20 years.
The project will include roadwork and possible sidewalk work near the bridge.
Barnes said possible additional work has been broken into three alternates. One is Hill Street, the second is from Cottonwood to the new bridge, including asphalt and sidewalk work, and the third alternative would be the demolition of the old structure.
The combination of the new bridge going in at Cottonwood, the new Connie’s Bridge, and asphalt that will connect those bridges are being called the Hill Street Corridor.
The bid documents will likely go out by the first of March. Construction will begin in June and will take about nine months.
Council also approved motions for the following:
- Accounts payable in the amount of $762,502.21
- The Gila County Fire Chief’s Association Mutual Aid Agreement
- The HeartFit for Duty Annual Physical Agreement with the Globe Fire Department
- The “Cascading Poppies” mural along the Silver King Stairs as part of the “Stairizona Trail Route” donated to the City of Globe by the “I Art Globe” organization
- A Memorandum of Understanding between Gila County Division of Health – AZ Health Zone and Globe Public Library to facilitate programs held at Globe Public Library presented by Gila County Division of Health – AZ Health Zone targeting low-income, SNAP-eligible residents of Globe and establish an annual calendar of events
- A contract with MMI Tank in the amount of $1,343 for the Bonita Flats Booster Hydro-Pneumatic Tank Project
- Moving forward with the purchase of Ditch Witch MV800 Vacuum Excavator in the amount of $46,489
- Transfer of funds in the amount of $10,533.06 to purchase BolaWraps for the Police Department. Chief Walters explained that BolaWraps are a less lethal device for combating violent offenders. A video is available of Councilman Stapleton testing the device. Walters said there will be training, and Council will have a chance to see a demonstration. The League of Cities will be reimbursing half the cost of the equipment.
- A Call of Election for the August 2, 2022, Primary Election and the November 8, 2022, General Election. The resolution designates the dates and purposes of elections, deadlines for voter registration, and places and last dates for candidates to file nomination papers. Shelly Salazar said the seats up for this call are Districts 3, 4, 5, and 6. The clerk’s office will be accepting nomination paperwork from candidates between March 5 and April 4. The primary election will be on August 2, and the deadline for voter registration is July 5.
To view documents related to this meeting click here.
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Patricia Sanders lived in Globe from 2004 to 2008 and at Reevis Mountain School, in the Tonto National Forest, from 2008 to 2014. She has been a writer and editor for GMT since 2015. She currently lives on Santa Maria island in the Azores.