We, concerned residents and stakeholders of Highland West, the Hilltop, and the Westside, oppose the change in zoning for 158 N. Wheatland Avenue from NE to ARLD. We also oppose reducing the amount of parking required for a 60-unit apartment building. We further oppose the City’s seeming intent to continue over-concentrating poverty into the Highland West area and all the other neighborhoods of the Hilltop.
1. In 2003 when the area’s present “NE” zoning was approved by the Area Commission, they stipulated that any development of that parcel would need to increase and encourage home ownership. This proposal of a 60-unit apartment building is unsuitable for this area, will dwarf historic houses, many of which are 1 ½ story bungalows across the street, and add further population density on North Wheatland Avenue, not to mention adding even more crime to an area that is already challenged. Changing the zoning not only goes against the intent of the prior zoning change, but also is in opposition to the objectives of the Greater Hilltop Plan of 2001, the plan for The Economic Development of West Broad Street (2005), the Highland West Charrette and other planning (2006-2007), and the Greater Hilltop Plan Amendment (2010).
2. Wheatland Avenue is a narrow street with parking on only the west side of the street and one-way traffic traveling north for most of it. The parking available is already limited, leaving no room to also serve a large apartment complex. Proposed high density housing would increase traffic and impact safety forces who need safe clearance along the street.
3. The poverty in the surrounding areas currently ranges from 42% - 60+%. Depending upon the breakdown, if Low Income Housing Tax Credits are used, this apartment complex could easily increase those amounts to 52%-75%, which are unsustainable for the neighborhood; the increase in crime, the increased need for already depleted safety services and public services, greatly diminishes this neighborhood’s chance to ever become a wholesome, revitalized neighborhood of the Hilltop. Whereas this apartment complex project will be using Low Income Housing Tax Credits, they will not tell us what the breakdown in residential composition will be.
4. The Highland West area of the Hilltop is not lacking in “affordable housing” since it has sufficient inventory of townhomes, apartments, and even housing stock as inexpensive as $25,000.00. Affordable housing would be better suited for downtown, the near eastside, Weinland Park, the Southside, etc.; where City-supported development has made it more difficult to find.
We support diverse mixed income development. We fully support reserving 10-25% of units in any development for affordable housing, however, all development must also encourage and increase home ownership at all income levels, just as we see in other developments in the other areas of the inner City. This project at 102 North Wheatland Avenue only perpetuates and increases the economic segregation of our City, which we vehemently oppose, and does not conform to the objectives of the community for the kind of responsible development that will bring it back to the mixed income community that it once was and what we all desire it to be once again.