Planned development near BJU includes affordable housing for seniors

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Greenville is one step closer to getting some new affordable housing for seniors after City Council members approved a major modification to a planned development across from Bob Jones University.

Renaissance Place will have 20 cottage-style single-family homes and a 60-unit senior apartment building under the rezoning approved during a special formal City Council meeting Monday night.

The new plan reduced density, improved pedestrian connectivity, and provided larger setbacks and property buffers than a proposal the city’s planning commission recommended in December be denied.

“It’s a better proposal than what’s currently on the books,” city Planning and Development Manager Jay Graham told council members. The original planned development, which was approved in conjunction with the Bob Jones University-owned property’s annexation into the city in 2006, contained 50,000 square feet of retail space along North Pleasantburg Drive and up to 180 condominiums behind the commercial area.

Graham said the new plan has some of the largest setbacks and property buffers of any recent development proposed in the city. At the December planning commission meeting, residents of the McCarter neighborhood expressed concern the development would destroy the pristine natural setting around the adjacent community pool and would affect pool members trying to sunbathe.

At Monday’s meeting, some residents opposed the new plan, saying they were concerned that the development would increase flooding, reduce their property values, and increase traffic, and about the scale of the apartment building.

“We do not oppose affordable housing, only the design and layout of the property,” said Tricia Austin, a McCarter Avenue resident. “We realize that financing deadlines are in play, but we have one chance to get it right.”

City officials said the developer would have to meet federal, state, and local stormwater regulations.

Greenville Homeless Alliance coordinator Susan McLarty spoke in favor of the change, saying the development would be a true mixed-income community with access to doctor’s offices, grocery stores, and transit.

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