During yet another out-of-control City Council meeting on April 2, Mayor Nikuyah Walker cleared the chamber and councilors reconvened after a closed session to seek legal advice on how to maintain order. Nearly two hours into the meeting, councilors began to address the city’s business, and by 10pm approved by a 4-1 vote a special use permit for West2nd.
Developer Keith Woodard appeared before council in February seeking another floor and another 28 units in the L-shaped building that will be built on a city-owned Water Street parking lot and will house City Market, parking, office, retail and luxury dwellings.
That plan was rebuffed 3-2, with Councilor Wes Bellamy bartering with Woodard to increase the number of affordable housing units he proposed to build on Harris Street at a cost in excess of the $316,000 Woodard could contribute to the Affordable Housing Fund, as most developers do.
This time, Bellamy “wholeheartedly” supported the permit. Woodard agreed to build eight units that would remain affordable for 15 years, and another eight units that the city would subsidize using property tax revenue from the West2nd project.
Previously, Vice Mayor Heather Hill and Walker nixed the plan because of concerns it would not sufficiently serve City Market. Hill said her concerns about the market had been appeased, but Walker was not swayed and voted no.
“I still don’t support the project,” she said, focusing on the difficulty of achieving equity when nearly 100 luxury units are built downtown and 16 affordable units are built in another part of town.
“To do something bold, we need tax revenue,” argued Bellamy. “This is the innovation people have been talking about.”