Guest opinion: Massive Mariani Development Proposal Is Not Fooling Neighbors
By Howard Myers
Lou Mariani has been trying to replace his hotel with high density apartments since Feb. 2014. In Dec. 2014, the mayor and council told Mariani to reduce his 51 units/acre plan to something that met the general plan of 37 units/acre. Instead, in 2015, he came back with a plan for 315 apartments at 96 units/acre.
This 96 units/acre plan is basically the same one he has been trying to get approved for more than two years. In his formal application in Jan. 2016 he designated 16 percent of the units as market-rate senior housing, but it was the same plan. In the last 18 months, there have been rumors of changes, additions, deletions, and new plans being submitted; but this has all been lipstick on the same pig.
No new plans, no renderings, nothing.
In July this year, Mariani scheduled six small, invitation-only, meetings they labeled ‘Community Outreach’. The city planner confirmed these were not outreach meetings, so attendance could be controlled by Mariani and his new consultant, Kevin Moore.
In actual outreach meetings, Mariani invariably had his butt handed to him and he could get no positive comments. The intent must have been to elicit friendly comments about his project by arranging for more than half the attendees to be from outside the neighborhood, and some were even from outside of the city.
We thought it very important to go on record as to what the real neighbors thought. We conducted a survey of those in the direct neighborhood or within 500 feet of it.
We received 99 returns for a 42.5 percent return rate, which for an email survey is remarkably high.
We found that 16 percent of the respondents had attended one of the recent meetings. But what we didn’t find was anyone that thought the project should be built as it is currently proposed.
When commenting on the conditions that cause neighbors the most concern, it isn’t surprising that quality of life was more important than property value.
Mariani has promised that if he is allowed to build his 315 units on the creek side of Buchanan, he will build a nice new hotel on the other side in 5 to 8 years. Eighty-five percent of the respondents think the chance of him keeping his promise is 10 percent or less.
The purpose of the survey is to present the real opinion of the neighborhood assuming Mariani will try to make points by using the nice complements his out-of-town attendees supplied.