After a lengthy public hearing on Monday, the Gardendale City Council unanimously approved a rezoning ordinance to allow a luxury apartment complex to be built on the land behind Wal-Mart. The addresses for the property are officially 814 and 740 Bauers Lane.

The zoning change would allow multi-family residences to be constructed on the property, but the council put a strict time limit on the change. If the developer can’t get the project funded and permits filed in six months, the property reverts back to its previous zoning, ensuring that no other type of apartment could be built on the land.

The property is currently not developed or cleared and, according to Mayor Stan Hogeland, it’s location has previously been deemed undesirable for commercial developers because it does not have interstate visibility or a direct entrance on a main road (such as Fieldstown Road).

According to the developers, the complex would have an approximately 20 acre buffer between its edge and the nearest homes, in Magnolia Ridge. That buffer would remain wooded and would be donated back to the city for use as a park. The council said it would look into ways to designate that as a natural-type park to ensure it was not developed or used for sports fields or other purposes.

The property will also have a six-foot fence around it for security.

The developer, the Dobbins Group, has created similar developments in Homewood, Nashville and Lexington, Kentucky.

The Dobbins Group is planning to invest $32 million in creating the development, without using any federal funding, such as Section 8 or HUD.

Once completed, the development, which is approximately 90% one- or two-bedroom units, will average $1,100 a month in rent, while the two-bedroom units will average $1,400 a month.

Anyone living on the property would have to submit to an intense criminal background check, credit check, employment history and rental history check and sign a stringent lease agreement.

A few residents of Magnolia Ridge attended the meeting to get answers about how the property would impact their homes and voice concerns about the plan and the longterm ramifications of allowing the development.

The developer said the developments usually cater to residents under 35 years old who prefer to rent, rather than purchase a home at this point in their lives. There are some empty nesters who enjoy the complex—which will include a resort-style saltwater pool and dog park, among other amenities.

Because of the type of residents who tend to prefer these apartments, according to the developer, they are mostly young professionals without children. That means there is very little impact on schools, in most cases. A traffic study of the site, conducted by Skipper Consulting, shows that most traffic coming from the development’s gated entrance on Flippo Parkway, would be going away from the school and would not contribute significantly to the school’s morning traffic.

Once begun, the developer said the project would take approximately 18 months to complete. The final development will contain 204 units.

Rachel Davis is the editor and general manager of The North Jefferson News. She can be reached at editor@njeffersonnews.com or by calling 205.631.8716. 

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