Council to vote on student housing, parking recommendations
A student housing project and an ambitious plan to change how Newark approaches downtown parking are among the items on the packed agenda for Monday’s council meeting.
The meeting is set for 7 p.m. at city hall, 220 S. Main St.
The Watts family will ask council to approve its plan to demolish five rental homes at 209, 213, 217, 221 and 225 Haines Street and construct a four-story building containing 24 apartments and 22 garage parking spaces. Half the units would have three bedrooms, while the other half would have two bedrooms, for a total of 60 bedrooms.
A separate 28-space parking lot would be built next to the building.
The project would require council to rezone the properties from RD (one-family semidetached residential) to RA (multifamily dwellings– high-rise apartments) and approve a comprehensive development plan amendment and major subdivision with site plan approval.
Seth Watts argued that the project is filling a need in the area, which has seen several new development projects comprised of large townhousestyle apartment units.
“We know there’s a demand for two and three-bedroom units, and not as many are being built in this area,” he said in November.
The planning commission unanimously recommended council approve the comprehensive development plan amendment and recommended the rezoning and major subdivision by a 4-3 vote. However, council is not obligated to follow the planning commission’s recommendations.
Meanwhile, council will also discuss more details about several parking-related initiatives. A committee of residents, business owners and city officials made the recommendations last year, and the city’s planning department was tasked with devising an implementation strategy.
Short-term items proposed for this year include negotiating a lease agreement with the University of Delaware to use UD lots for employee parking and spending $80,000 on consultants to develop a marketing strategy and study “impediments to creative parking solutions.”
In 2020, the proposal calls for developing a mobile app to display parking information, reducing or eliminating parking requirements for developers and negotiating leases with private parking lot owners to increase the supply of public parking. Long-term ideas, slated for 2021 or later, include creating a downtown shuttle bus and building a parking garage.
Other items up for discussion or a vote include City Secretary Renee Bensley’s salary, proposed changes to the city’s communications department and a recommendation to charge late fees for unpaid bills.
Council will also hear an update on the new Newark Partnership organization.
An artist’s rendering shows the 24-unit apartment building proposed for Haines Street.