Student housing proposal to go back before Lubbock Planning & Zoning Commission

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 9:22 PM CST
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - It will truly be Groundhog Day on Thursday for the Lubbock Planning & Zoning Commission as well as supporters and opponents of a student housing project that was rejected by the Commission in November.

“They’ve amended their plan for the building again,” Don Richards with the Tech Terrace - U.N.I.T. Neighborhood Association said. “It’s still a huge building and it’s too big for the property where they want to place it.”

Up Campus is requesting the Commission change the zoning for the property between 19th and 20th Street, west of University Avenue where Cafe J and the Godbold Center are currently located. The same request was made in early November but denied. Now, the plans have changed.

“The developer, Up Campus, has reduced the size of the project and made other modifications to the project to try to address some concerns with the neighborhood,” George Hardberger, the landowner, said.

Hardberger said the changes include reducing the number of beds from more than 700 to 600.

“Previously, on 20th Street, there was a three-story apartment building,” Hardberger said. “There was opposition to that because it didn’t fit in with the neighborhood. Now the developer is building houses there. It will fit in with the neighborhood with reduced traffic. They’ve also reduced the size of the project by about 20 percent.”

Richards said the Association still opposes the multi-story building on 19th Street and is concerned with traffic and safety of the Tech Terrace neighborhood.

“It’s going to tower and dominate everything along the Tech Terrace area,” Richards said. “We know that there’ll be a lot of more street walking across to go to the campus. We know that there will be a lot more vehicles.”

Hardberger told KCBD TxDOT, which currently owns 19th Street, has approved of the plan.

“The developer, Up Campus, only builds complexes across the street from universities,” Hardberger said. “I think it’s a terrific project. I think it’s really good for Texas Tech and good for Lubbock. I don’t think it’s gonna have an adverse effect on the neighborhood. In fact, I think it’ll improve property values, as it has in other cities.”

Richards said the Commission is aware of its previous objections to the proposal but has now filed a Motion to Dismiss the case with the Commission. After a lengthy public hearing on Nov. 3, it voted 6-3 to deny the zoning change. It was then to go before the City Council for its final consideration but was withdrawn by Up Campus. Richards believes Lubbock Zoning Code prevents the request from being considered again so soon.

“On November 3rd, they got a 6-3 negative vote not to recommend it,” Richards said. “The code says that if you then don’t take it to city council, and get them to approve it or overturn it, then you cannot bring it back to Planning and Zoning on the same property for at least 12 months.”

Richards said the Association will focus on that legal argument during the public hearing, which is included on the Commission’s agenda for Thursday, Feb. 2 at 6 p.m.

“We think there’s a lot more uses for that property, that would be a lot better, in context, fit in with Texas Tech and fit in with the neighborhood, as opposed to a high-rise, very dense resident facility,” Richards said.

Hardberger said it’s been difficult to find common ground on the student housing proposal and rejects the suggestion of a hotel by the Association since one is already next door. He said current zoning allows for other projects that may be undesirable.

“It might be a gas station or convenience store, fast food and equipment rental place or used car lot,” Hardberger said. “We could even put in a college bar and we wouldn’t have to ask their permission. It’s not the best use of the property. The best use of the property is to do what Up Campus has proposed.”

Thursday’s public hearing is inside the council chambers at Citizens Tower.