The Mill Town project was approved last Tuesday. I do believe that the City could have gotten more out of this project, such as more affordable housing. When we have the power and leverage to do more, we should. But high density housing is necessary for Flagstaff. It is better for environmental conservation, it reduces traffic, and helps hedge inflation on housing costs. Flagstaff has 3 options-build up, build out, or face double digit inflation in our rental market. I personally am not a fan of tearing down the forest, or people being forced into homelessness because they can't afford rent. We may not like any of those options, but that’s reality.
This is not a “Deal with the Devil,” as I’ve heard people say. The developer, Vintage Partners, has been a community partner. They are not Core Campus that built the Hub. Based on public outreach and discussions with Council, Vintage redesigned their plans 7 times. They are putting in an underpass on Milton to help encourage ped/bicycle transportation. They left 2 acres of land as open space, put a much higher ratio of parking to unit than the Hub, and took out their commercial floor to reduce the height to the already zoned 65’. They also are renting by the unit and not by the bed per the community’s request.
Let’s be honest. Under the prior mayor this development would have been 93’ tall, rented by the bed, with no concessions made to receive zoning approval. Is it ideal? No. Could Council negotiate better next time? Yes. When we have the power and the leverage, we should use it to the utmost.