Lubbock City Council denies zoning change for student apartment complex north of Tech Terrace

The issue has been ongoing since September when it was first before the Commission for rezoning.
Published: Feb. 28, 2023 at 9:13 PM CST|Updated: Feb. 28, 2023 at 10:33 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - The Lubbock City Council voted against a request to change zoning that would allow for a student housing apartment complex proposal north of the Tech Terrace neighborhood. It’s the first time the council has taken up the proposed project since the request was approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission in early February.

“We worked really hard for several months on this, and the hope was that we would be successful,” Cyndi Pratas, President of the Tech Terrace U.N.I.T. Neighborhood Association, said. “When the vote was 5-2, I was very pleasantly surprised but with mixed feelings, because with them voting it down and the fact that the Planning and Zoning [Commission] passed, it means that they could come back again. Truthfully, everybody that’s involved in this is just exhausted from it.”

The Association has led opposition to the proposed project, which is a five-story, 600-bed building on 19th Street with retail space and a parking garage. On 20th Street, the developer proposed building seven two-story homes.

The issue has been ongoing since September when it was first before the Commission for rezoning. That case was postponed and withdrawn. It was again withdrawn in October and voted against by the Commission in November.

After the proposal was changed and submitted again, the Commission voted in favor of the rezoning on February 2. Those recommendations then go to the City Council for the final decision.

“I’ve just got to say how impressed I am with our neighborhood, their turnout over and over again, and getting the word out,” Pratas said. “The support from the Neighborhood Association just really made my little piece of this much, much easier.”

Tech Terrace U.N.I.T. kept its comments brief before the Council since the arguments have remained the same against the proposal, like the density and fit with the neighborhood.

George Hardberger, the landowner and applicant for the rezone, asked the Council to consider the project’s impact on the tax base, and his perceived student housing needs and tried to ease concerns about any issues like traffic.

“I think the concessions that have been made have made it a great project,” Hardberger told the Council. “The opposition is loud. They’re organized. They’re militant and that’s the way it is. They laugh at you when they don’t like what you say. So, anyway, congratulations to them for mounting a good opposition but I firmly believe this is a great project. I’m proud of it.”

During the public hearing Tuesday it was announced that Thomas Payne of Lubbock had taken over the development of the project instead of Up Campus out of Chicago. He told the Council he signed the contract Tuesday morning and asked for a postponement of the case or approval.

Councilman Steve Massengale made a motion for postponement. He and Councilwoman Dr. Jennifer Wilson were the only two to vote for the postponement.

“I don’t know what we would be postponing this for, what we would expect to hear that would be any different than what we’ve heard,” Councilman Mark McBrayer told his fellow councilmembers.

McBrayer who represents District 3 and lives in the neighborhood said he’s always been against the proposal, particularly because of its footprint.

“People can debate about a lot of the statistics and figures that were given but the one objective fact is that this is a 450-foot long wall, 60 feet tall, 10 feet off the alley,” McBrayer said. “I think anybody can say, if they’re being reasonable, they wouldn’t want that behind their house, right across the alley. It’s just not appropriate. There weren’t enough setbacks. The height of it, the length of it, just made it inappropriate, really, for the neighborhood.”

It’s been mentioned, including at Tuesday’s meeting, the current zoning allows for many other projects on that land, which currently includes the Godbold Cultural Center and Cafe J. McBrayer said he’s not worried about anything “improper.”

“I do want something and I think the neighborhood has come around to acknowledging that something needs to happen there,” McBrayer said. “This was not an appropriate development but we’re hoping someone comes along. It’s a good property, is an ideal property in many ways for some developments. It’s not our job to bring a development forward. It’s someone else’s and then it either is appropriate or it’s not. That’s the vote we took today that it just wasn’t appropriate.”

Massengale and Wilson were the only two council members to vote in favor. Since the Commission voted in favor, there is no waiting period for the proposal but it must go back through the normal process to be considered again.