Rezoning OK’d for proposed project on Amphitheater Road

Published 12:02 pm Monday, September 17, 2018

PELHAM – A request to rezone a portion of Amphitheater Road was approved by the Planning Commission at a meeting on Thursday, Sept. 13. The rezoning is the first step in bringing a mixed-use commercial and residential development to Pelham.

An amendment changing the present zoning from A-1 (agricultural district) and O&I (office and institutional) to R-A (apartment dwelling district) and B-2 (general business district) was approved for applicant John Brenner, with Birmingham-based Genrev Development.

Now Brenner will go before the Pelham City Council to seek final approval for the development.

Genrev Development would like to invest more than $50 million into the construction of an apartment complex, retail stores and fast casual eateries on 36 acres of land across from the Pelham Civic Complex. Brenner said the goal is to revitalize Amphitheater Road and to make it more attractive.

At the meeting, several concerns previously expressed by residents were addressed. At a meeting on Aug. 9 residents had concerns about traffic congestion, controlling flood water, the impact on Pelham City Schools, upkeep of the apartment complex and attracting transient tenants.

The retail area would consist of 40,000 to 50,000 square feet of destination eateries and shops.

The multi-floored apartments would consist of 225-250 units averaging about 1,000 square feet. The apartments would complement the city’s aesthetics, meaning it would incorporate green space and walking trails, Brenner said.

Jordy Henson, with Genrev Development, said rent for the luxury apartments would be in the range of $1,100-$1,200 per month.

“The cost of these apartments will not be in the $900 range as I previously state,” he said.

Henson said a higher price point for the apartments will help ensure that quality tenants occupy the apartment homes. Henson said the income of potential tenants would have to be three times the amount of rent, which means that the average tenant would need to have an annual income of about $45,000 to be able to afford to live there.

“We don’t want to bring anything that anyone would be ashamed of – we wouldn’t do that,” Henson said. “We’re a local group based in Birmingham and reputation and quality are really important to us.”

Henson said strategically located luxury apartments help build the economic vibrancy of an area.

“Millennial professionals love this lifestyle and they bring with them strong tax contributions,” he said.

To address flood water concerns, site plans now include two detention ponds. Brenner said water will not leave the site until it has been detained. He added that some apartments had to be sacrificed to include the detention ponds.

The development originally called for 250-260 apartments, but now that number has dropped to 225-250.

“We will likely be on the lower end of that as a result of the detention ponds, but that’s a sacrifice we are willing to make to fix the flood water issue,” Brenner said.

A 30-page traffic study conducted by Skipper Consulting Inc. According to the study, the development is expected to generate 142 trips in the morning peak hour, with 46 entering and 96 exiting trips. During the afternoon peak hour, 435 trips are expected, with 268 entering and 168 exiting.

The data was compared with criteria from the National Cooperative Highway Research Program Report 457, which is used to evaluate intersections, to determine if turn lanes would be needed on Amphitheater Road for post development conditions.

“The results of these assessments indicated projected peak hour volumes would not be sufficient to warrant either left or right turn lanes on Amphitheater Road at the site access driveways,” the study states.

Furthermore, the traffic study indicates that the current intersections would “operate with acceptable levels of service” after the development is complete.

Another analysis indicates that the development would have a minimal impact on Pelham City Schools and would be an economic driver for the school system, bringing in an estimated revenue of $221,800 annually. An estimated 25-50 children would enter the school system, based on data collected from similar luxury complexes.

But one resident expressed concerns about PCS getting more students and being stretched too thin. With Pelham Ridge at capacity and Pelham Oaks nearing capacity, more students would further crowd the elementary schools, one resident said.

But Mayor Gary Waters said he spoke to PCS Superintendent Dr. Scott Coefield about the proposed development and he doesn’t have any concerns about it right now.