A local developer will be allowed to build a new apartment complex in the Midtown District, despite opposition from some single-family homeowners.
Sam Scarborough received the go-ahead on Wednesday from the Tyler City Council to build a three-story, 36-unit apartment complex on property near the intersection of East Front Street and South Fleishel Avenue.
In a voice vote, the City Council approved a recommendation from the Planning and Zoning Commission to rezone Scarborough’s land from a planned office district to a planned multifamily residential district.
The zoning change allows Scarborough to move forward with the $5 million project in the Midtown District. Scarborough is also the owner of the old King Chevrolet property, where he plans to build another housing complex.
The council voted for the rezoning after two residents in the neighborhood —Jacqueline Chubirka and Stephanie Barnett — criticized the project as spot zoning and inappropriate for the neighborhood’s current character.
Chubirka said the area should have more infill of single-family homes. She also questioned the logistics of Scarborough’s proposal.
“What is the occupancy of this project?” she asked. “Where will you put 72-plus cars? This area already has a severe parking crisis.”
Barnett, a new resident of Tyler, said the city is special because it has a small-town feel, and the council should not allow “unchecked” urban growth.
“I agree that if Tyler grows and we need more housing for the UT Tyler students and for the colleges, we need to make appropriate apartment buildings,” Barnett said. “I don’t want to see Tyler become this mismatch of giant apartment buildings next to small houses.”
Heather Nick, the managing director of planning and economic development for the city of Tyler, told the council Scarborough’s project is consistent with the area’s future land use guide.
Nick said city officials have identified the area as a prime area for multifamily housing and not an ideal location for single-family residential homes.
District 4 City Councilman Don Warren recommended the council approve the zoning change. He said he couldn’t find any reason not to do the project, and said it may even inspire new restaurants to build in the area.
“There has been so little investment on the eastern side of Tyler for so many years, and this is a time to really have it started, to kick-start it,” Warren said in an interview on Wednesday afternoon.
“I think some people are comfortable with the status quo, and are opposed to change, and I can understand that, but sometimes change is good, and we are really trying to help make all these neighborhoods better,” he said.
Scarborough said in an interview that he is really excited to start the project. The apartments will be high-end with amenities such as granite countertops, he said, and will be targeted toward medical professionals.
“ The city is behind us on it and we’re looking forward to getting started,” Scarborough said.
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