Commission rejects proposed student housing development.

The Columbia Design/Development Review Commission has rejected a developer's proposal to build a 271-unit, eight-story student housing project on Gervais Street.

Lafayette, Ind.-based Trinitas presented plans to build a 476,000-square-foot multifamily building, including a three-story underground parking garage, in the 1600 block of Gervais Street to the commission last week. The development would have housed up to 540 students in apartments ranging from studios to three bedrooms.

On Jan. 9, the commission unanimously rejected Trinitas' request for a certificate of design approval, as well as a request for site plan approval for new construction, "based on the mass and scale and use of the building being incompatible with adjacent neighborhood districts."

City staff recommended approval of the agenda items, but no members of the public attending the meeting spoke in favor of the project.

A representative from Historic Columbia and several residents of the nearby University Hill neighborhood spoke against the project. They were concerned about the size and height of the building, as well as potential traffic problems. Several residents also worried about increased late-night foot traffic in Five Points.

"The primary opposition we have to this project is its mass and design, and the consequences of its mass and design," one University Hill resident told the commission.

"It's going to...

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