Think twice about Blu
Doug Pfau, Minot
This letter is in response to the article titled BLU ON BROADWAY in the 8/27/2019 edition of the MDN. The article describes the plan to build a commercial and residential property, which includes 42 low to moderate income apartments, Here are 3 points for the city council to consider:
– The first variance the plan calls for to be granted is: the proposed number of apartments is nearly 2 times (density) what is currently allowed by city ordinance on the proposed parcel of land. See Jill Schramm’s article in the 8/27/19 MDN. There have been many apartments built in Minot since 2012 and no variances of this type were granted.
– The second variance regards the number of parking spots proposed is substantially lower than is required and mandated by city ordinance. The argument presented by the developers is the belief that “low income” people do not have cars so the required number of parking spots won’t be needed. The developer fails to note his source for this information.
– The plan also calls for the tenants vehicles to be parked in the surrounding commercial areas during “off” hours. Please note that businesses are open in the evenings, Saturdays and Sundays, after the revision of the Blue Laws. Some facts regarding low to moderate income apartments. Minot currently has approximately 10,000 apartments. According to the MCAA (Magic City Apartment Association) the current vacancy sits at 7.2 %. Historically this number has proven to be higher than this reported number so one can safely assume that there are close to 1,000 vacant units. The current allowed HAP, Housing Assistance Program, provides qualifying dollar amounts of $747 for a 1 BR apartment, $971 for 2 bedrooms and $1401 for 3 bedroom units. Apartment rents have plummeted since October 2014, so the vast majority of available vacant units, as well as occupied units, would quality at these rates for ‘affordable” apartments.
Another factor to consider: The MHA, (Minot Housing Authority) has stated in the past that the number of qualifying apartments is not the problem. The problem is that there is a limited amount of federal dollars available. There are anywhere between 300 and 600 people that are on a waiting list for the federal dollars.
Regarding the commercial plan, one only needs to drive around the city of Minot to see all the vacant commercial spots.
In conclusion, one should carefully consider a plan that necessitates variances to the current city ordinances. They are in place for good reasons. Remember the First Western Bank debacle?
Final thoughts: The Minot city commission will subject itself to additional public criticism (good “ole boys club) by allowing this plan to proceed as proposed. Just because these grant dollars are available does not necessitate spending them foolishly.