During the mayoral candidate forum in August 2018, I questioned the candidates about how they felt about the 75-foot height in the College Edge Overlay District in the Urban Core.
Ron Anders replied that he had voted for it because the Southern Living hotel “needed” the extra 10 feet to make the project financially viable. Every other candidate said they wanted the 65-foot height.
Now, it appears the Southern Living Hotel will not be built. Although the Lifestyle+Hotel Group (LHG) is looking for another downtown location, who knows how long that may or may not take. In addition, whatever land they may find for their project may not require the 75-foot ordinance to be “financially viable.”
And in the end, it is not the city’s responsibility to look after a developer’s finances. It is the city’s job to look after the long-term future of Auburn and its citizens.
Change the height back to 65 feet now. If future developments want 75 feet, the Planning Commission/City Council can review the developer’s request for a possible variance at that time, but the downtown College Edge Overlay District needs to return to 65 feet, as the “stated” reason for the change no longer exists.
Any present projects that have already been approved for 75 feet can be “grandfathered” in. All new projects, from this point forward, need to comply with 65 feet. There is no reason to wait until the LHG may possibly find another site downtown. Several possible developments can come up before then. And there are currently too many overcrowded 75-foot high buildings downtown.
City Council: bring up the 65-foot ordinance for the College Edge Overlay District now and pass it. You can see the effect the 75-foot ordinance is already having on downtown.
Do the right thing, Auburn City Council. For the future of our Village — bring up and pass the 65-foot ordinance.