Council looks at housing development options

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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ7)— More variety of housing in Blacksburg was a key topic at Tuesday’s town council meeting.

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The council decided to postpone a vote on a project at the 1300 block of North Main St. and 1000 block of Giles Rd., asking the developer to find a way to not add student housing. They said it wouldn't have passed the way it was going to be presented.

Council asked the developer to withdraw their application so they didn't have to turn it down, which could have delayed the process for six months.

The project encompasses over six and a half acres. It is proposed to be seven buildings and three-fold, a commercial building with residential homes above, a series of townhomes and a middle component with what council members believe will be student housing.

“We’ve approved a lot of town housing over the last several years,” said Councilman John Bush. “Most of us think we’ve done enough in that regard and would like to see other housing options and products for both young professionals and retirees, and workforce housing for people who work in the town and live in the town.”

The smaller of the projects up for a public hearing on Tuesday is located on just under an acre of vacant land at 1401 Giles Rd. The developer proposed to change the approved 14 apartments totaling 32 bedrooms to 28 apartments totaling 64 bedrooms. It would serve as a mixed-use development for the town.

There were mixed feelings about this project among council members. Many were in favor of it being non-student housing and increasing density without changing the footprint of the land, but there were concerns about its 65-foot height proposal.

“While I wasn’t too happy with the size and the scale of it, a 65 foot tall building on Giles, my colleagues convinced me that what is happening there in terms of the type of housing was something we needed in the town,” Bush said.

The vote on this project was 6-1, with Mayor Leslie Hager-Smith voting in opposition.

The postponed project will have to go back to the planning commission in March, then could go before council in April.

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