Nearly three years after the City Council signed off on the project, developers are preparing to break ground, likely next month, on a five-story, 270-unit apartment complex on Northwest Highway at West Lawther.
“They’re basically ready to break ground any day now,” says Gloria Tarpley, chair of the City Plan Commission, adding that a construction trailer recently popped up on the property.
Since it was initially proposed, the project has been scaled back in size and scope. When it was first presented to the City Council in 2012 by a different developer, the design called for a six-story building comprised of 350 apartments.
At the time, neighbors north of the project expressed concerns that the high-density housing would draw low-income families, which historically has been the norm of housing developments in the Lake Highlands vicinity. Developers have always maintained that the housing will be “boutique” and “high end,” meant to attract families and young professionals.
“We have never done any low-income projects,” developer J. Scott Rodgers said during a public meeting on the proposal in 2012. “We will be on the top end of the market cost to make it worth the land and development cost.”
Rodgers, who has been the local representative overseeing the project for Richman Ascencion Development, said Monday that someone from the company’s corporate office in Connecticut would have to respond to the Advocate’s queries about the project regarding its construction schedule, planned completion date and other project details. Check back for updates.
Tarpley praised the developers’ efforts to engage local residents and craft a project that would fit the neighborhood. “They (the developers) are really good guys. They’ve really bent over backwards to work with the neighbors,” Tarpley says. “In the end, this project is a win for everyone, the developers, the neighbors and the city.”
According to its website, Richman Ascencion Development has built eight residential complexes across Texas along with additional projects in New York, Florida, California and Colorado. It is part of the umbrella corporation, the Richman Group.
Previously, the site at 7545 Northwest Highway was home to a lawnmower store, liquor store, convenience store and a family residence that has long set fallow. As of this week, all but the house had been razed in preparation for construction to begin.