Progressive New Gated Apartment Complex up for Council Decision

by Tony Rutherford HuntingtonNews.Net Reporter
Artists Conception of Proposed Apartments
Artists Conception of Proposed Apartments

HUNTINGTON, WV (HNN) - - During the Thursday council work session Nate Randolph called the planned $8 million dollar gate apartment community at Eighth Avenue and Third Street “a definition for Huntington’s future.”

His statements ---- and those voiced by many council members --- suggest a “no brainer” in terms of win win economic development for the city. However, Randolph worried that a reputation for “we don’t want things to change” could influence enough members of council to vote down the necessary re-zoning recommended by committees.

Community opposition has hinged on increased traffic , overloaded sewage and/or storm sewers.

Randolph told council that Thorntree Apartment owner, Alex Vence, has addressed effectively all the challenges, such as , for instance, a holding pond to gradually release storm water back into the earth.

Interior of Proposed New Apartments Taken from Similar Single Bedroom by Developer
Interior of Proposed New Apartments Taken from Similar Single Bedroom by Developer

“Vence has bank financing and committed to one-third at a time builds,” Randolph explained. The bank phasing requirement limits risk by having the next phase contingent on successful rentals of the newly construction portion.

Randolph verbalized the need for new mid to upscale apartments.

“We do not have enough qualified housing stock in the city. This is part of improving our housing stock and warrants a zoning change. We are replete with underutilized or vacant industrial property,” the councilman said.

Part of his rationale included an explanation that the new addition would woo those financially comfortable into the gated community, thus, opening their former lower rent locations for occupancy by some of those lower income people on a waiting list for apartments in their price range to become vacant.

“We have a willing buyer and a willing seller. It’s in our best interest,” he concluded.

Prior to the council vote, members of the public will have an opportunity to speak in favor or in opposition of the proposed gated community.

Other agenda items which spared work session comments included a new landfill contract and the bid for energy savings by Honeywell.

Purchasing Director Darryl Miller, indicated that a “measure twice and cut once” re-bid on the landfill contract had been taken with a resulting $150,000 savings (over the life of the five year contract ) to the city. Earlier, questions arose on factoring a ‘low bid’ due to a distance issue. On the new bid, “We bid operating costs [the same] to all vendors.”

The contract will now go through a finance committee referral.

The final items discussed was the interest rate for the Honeywell improvements. According to Miller, a stipulation had been that the bank guarantee the bid rate for 30 days since it takes approximately that long for two council readings. However, the low bidder offered 3.85% but only until July 14. Huntington Bank offered 3.88% through July 27.

As a consequence, Huntington Bank has been recommended as the winning bid. Steve Williams has now abstained from any council or finance committee decisions since he is an executive at the bank. At the Monday council meeting, a finance committee vice chairman likely will be determined.

Prior to the 7:30 p.m. council meeting, the Public Safety Committee meets at 6 p.m. to discuss safety ramifications of Huntington Fire Department issues, which are still to be fully determined.

The firefighters union , Mayor Wolfe, and Chief Craig Moore have a meeting prior to the public safety committee. They are examining the documents produced as evidence by the union to back up their no confidence vote. Similarly, Chief Moore has an opportunity to provide explanations.

Although the union has publicaly asked for Moore to step down, all parties have declined to make the supporting documentation available to the public or media.

The proposed purchase of four portable radios for the fire department at a total cost of about $19,000 is on council’s agenda.

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