Originally Published: March 24, 2018 6:05 a.m.
Editor’s note — This is a continuation of an ongoing series of articles highlighting “Trends: Living Spaces” in the greater Prescott area.
With hundreds of apartment units already either under construction or in the approval phase, two new projects have emerged recently that would add dozens more rentals to Prescott’s market.
The most immediate is the 100-unit Winfield at the Ranch project planned on 5.2 acres at 3740 Lee Circle – across Highway 69 from the Trader Joe’s/Prescott Gateway Mall area.
Within weeks, grading work is expected to get underway on the new complex that will occupy a sloped piece of land just off Lee Boulevard. The parcel is located between Prescott Fire Station 75 and the Chase Bank at Lee Boulevard/Highway 69.
City officials say nearly all of the necessary approvals are in place, and a building permit could be issued within the next week or two.
Project architect Peter Swingle of the Phoenix-based Athena Studio LLC firm said the first step will involve grading on the vacant parcel. That work will begin as soon as the building permit is issued, he said, and project build-out is expected to take about a year.
The Winfield complex will feature a mix of one- and two-bedroom units that will be available at a market rate, Single said.
Another multi-family project that is in the midst of the approval process would add 51 apartments that would be dedicated exclusively to veterans and elderly residents.
Catholic Charities has proposed building the Two Cedars project at its 434 West Gurley Street site. The organization will ask for a rezoning of a portion of the parcel at the Prescott City Council’s 3 p.m. Tuesday, March 27 voting session. (See related story).
The 100-unit Winfield apartment complex will consist of seven buildings, including a clubhouse.
The two- and –three-story buildings will be stepped down the parcel, Prescott Planning Manager George Worley said, with maximum building heights of 39 to 40 feet.
Swingle said the site slopes about 55 feet from the back to the front.
Although getting feedback from area residents was not a requirement of the developer, Swingle said the design was done with the neighbors in mind. “The highest point of the (apartment) buildings is below the sightline of the uphill houses,” he said.
Worley said the project would add needed residential-rental choices to the busy Highway 69 area. “It’s very close to Touchmark, and very close to the mall,” he said.
APPROVALS IN PLACE
Because the 5.2-acre parcel is already zoned for business-general, the Winfield plans did not have to go to the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission or City Council for approval.
“Business-general allows this use at this density,” Worley said.
The project did require a staff-level review by city departments, however, and Worley said the plans currently are in the second round of city review.
Likewise, the water allocation for the project was already covered by a previous water agreement, so the project did not require a special water allotment by the City Council.
Prescott Water Resources Manager Leslie Graser said the water allocation dates back to a 1974 agreement in which the landowner, Bullwhacker Ranch, allowed the city to install a water line across a portion of ranchland in order to serve the Yavapai Hills subdivision.
Under the agreement, Bullwhacker Ranch was entitled to water service, although the quantity was not determined at the time, Graser said. Later, the city set aside 100 acre-feet of water to cover the agreement.
That pool of set-aside water is available for the Winfield apartment project, Graser said. The complex will require an allocation of between 12 and 15 acre-feet of water. (An acre-foot equals 325,851 gallons).
In response to a previous shortage of rental units in Prescott, a number of projects have been proposed in recent years.
Among them: a 160-unit complex at 3149 Willow Creek Road; a 70-unit workforce project at 510 Miller Valley Road; a 200-unit complex at 2051 Willow Lake Road; and a 42-unit project at 1257 White Spar Road.
According to the results of a 2017 Housing Demand Study, the hundreds of apartment units that are in the works could exceed the community’s demand for multi-family housing.
In November 2017, consultant Martina Kuehl reported that the city has a demand for 479 multi-family units. She added that the number of units planned in the city would “not only meet the current demand but will meet the projected demand as well,” according to city minutes from the meeting.