By Jesse Wood
June 20, 2014. The Boone Town Council unanimously approved a zoning request for The Standard of Boone development that is proposed for a blighted stretch of property in between Faculty Street and Blowing Rock Road – parcels of property that currently include the condemned Scottish Inn, the Red Carpet Inn and vacant parcels adjacent to McDonald’s.
The mixed-use, student housing development by Stonegate Developers is now slated to be completed before fall semester 2016. Preliminary plans noted the development features 450 beds with 9,000 feet of commercial space on the first floor along Blowing Rock Road, according Stonegate’s website. Other amenities include a 3,600-square-foot gym facing Blowing Rock Road, a coffee shop and multiple atriums throughout the development. A five-level parking deck to accommodate 490 spaces is also planned. (See layout at end of article.)
Developers plan – to the tune of $2 million – to daylight the creek and move the creek closer to Faculty Street. They also plan to demolish all of the buildings currently on the property for the development. Initially, the main structure was to be five stories tall until the Boone Board of Adjustment scaled it down to four stories.
Thursday night’s approval from council came with 14 conditions, 11 of which were recommended by the Boone Area Planning Commission. Those include:
- Final plans should be compliant with the Unified Development Ordinance and other town codes
- Town of Boone shall be granted necessary easements for public sidewalks
- Between Blowing Rock Road and buildings shall consist of curb and gutter, pavers, five-foot sidewalks and trees
- No balconies on the Faculty Street side
The Boone Town Council on Thursday added three modifications/conditions:
- The landscaped area between building and Blowing Rock Road must be approved by town staff
- An in-residence law enforcement officer to curb illegal behavior
- Behavior expectations of tenants written in the lease
Perhaps one the biggest concerns for council was the landscaping. Council members were worried that the developer would back out of placing trees and other requested landscaping if the final landscaped area wasn’t approved by town staff. But attorney Jimmy Deal, a representative of Stonegate Developers, assured the council: “I like trees.”
Deal also mentioned to council before a vote on the proposal was taken that the developers ran into a problem with fitting more than 200 water meters in the same location as where the required pavers, trees and sidewalks will go. Town code states that every single unit must have a water meter. Deal mentioned that it was ridiculous to have to put 200 water meters on the property whenever the water is inclusive in the rent because the owner of the development would be the only one with a water bill.
Town Attorney Sam Furgiuele said that a solution on the water meters couldn’t be made at Thursday night’s rezoning decision but could be worked out at a later date.
Council members, particularly Councilwoman Lynne Mason, noted their approval of the development and improvement of such a blighted piece of property.
While Mason said that the town would like something “not quite as tall” and “scary,” the town must compromise with developers.
“This is one of the higher projects in town,” Mason said. “This is that balance of putting higher density development where we want it, so we can preserve the slopes and what makes this area so scenic and beautiful and I think this where we have to compromise.”
Councilman Rennie Brantz said he was impressed with the “attention to environmental details,” the daylighted creek and the proximity to campus and downtown Boone.
Mason also noted the saturated student housing market, especially with the arrival of The Cottages of Boone – or as Councilman Quint David called it, The Cottages Just Outside of Boone – that is located near the intersection of N.C. 105 and N.C. 105 Bypass. Mason said she would have preferred to see affordable housing for the workforce.
“Maybe the market will straighten that out,” Mason said.
During the public comment section at the beginning of Thursday night’s meeting, Wintergreen Road resident Joan Lynn White spoke out against the project. She has lived on Wintergreen Road since 1972. At a public hearing on the project in April, White said the project would be an invasion of her privacy and asked the board to consider its impact on the surrounding neighborhoods.
On Thursday, White said the development was “structurally imposing” and noted the overabundance of student housing that already exists.