The Norman Transcript

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October 24, 2012

No high density yet

NORMAN — Norman has been talking about high-density development for several months, but the talk Tuesday night at the Norman City Council was “no.”

This was in response to a request by the Elsey Brothers for a land-use amendment that would set the groundwork for high-density apartments. While some council members said they support high density and walkability, they all said until the city develops a policy, the land-use amendment would be premature.

The city is working on a policy following a series of high-density dialogues where city planners collected public input.

The request by the Elsey Brothers to build a high-density development was one of the factors driving the dialogues and the development of a policy for the city. Currently, density tops at around 26 units per acre, with slightly higher density allowed in Mixed Use Development projects.

The high-density policy would address request for much higher density at 100 units per acre and beyond.

“We’re architecture grads,” developer Chris Elsey said. “We drove around the perimeter of the university. We feel like there’s an opportunity here.”

Elsey said getting students where they can walk to the university creates a “really dynamic” community. A first project on Boyd Street across from the Mont to the east drew strong opposition from single-family residential neighborhoods nearby. The area under consideration is to the west of the railroad tracks on Boyd Street.

“The majority of the area is rental,” Elsey said.

“We would propose having an interior parking garage,” he said.

The proposal is for 250 bedrooms per acre and 75 feet or six stories in height, with five of those stories for living.

“If you want to do a design review board, we can make it look like anything you want. What we have to have is the volume,” Elsey said.

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