Last week, planning commissioners got their first official look at a proposed mixed-use development with ground floor retail and 274 apartments on the southwest corner of Higley and Ray roads .

Mill Creek Residential is requesting a minor general plan amendment and rezoning of 15.39 acres currently classified as a shopping center.

“I simply commend the applicant for their efforts to deliver a quality project while maintaining the city’s vision,” Commission David Blaser said during the Sept. 7 study session. “So I think it’s a great project.”

Modera Gilbert offers two three-storey buildings with apartments and two four-storey buildings along Ray Road with ground floor retail and three floors of residential units with 78 underground parking spaces.

Residential parking spaces total 505.

Former mayor Jenn Daniels, who is now a lobbyist, worked with the developer to raise awareness about the project.

Planner Josh Rogers said Modera Gilbert would be similar to the Epicenter mixed-use development at Agritopia opposite the site.

Rogers said the developer is asking for variances, including increasing the height of the building to 55 feet from the 45-foot limit and reducing the front landscape setback along Ray Road.

The building deflection is necessary due to the increased ceiling height required for the ground floor commercial space, according to Rogers.

“It’s not about adding additional living units in those areas above the attic, just accommodating that,” he said.

Rogers said three neighborhood meetings were held on the project and after hearing residents’ concerns about the loss of commercial space at the October meeting, the developer reworked the project.

Instead of just building multi-family residences on the site, Mill Creek changed the project to a mixed-use and general commercial vertical multi-family.

Rogers said residents are still concerned about traffic and the number of apartments already in the area.

Commissioner Anthony Bianchi said the project had grown from the original proposal of 300 apartments to 274 but still exceeded the zoning limit with just over 26 units per acre.

Rogers said staff are working with the developer to reduce that number to less than 25 units per acre.

“We’re trying to figure out how to do it,” he said.

Commissioner Brian Johns asked if staff supported the proposal or if it was too early to tell.

“It’s too early,” Rogers said. “But I will say through all the iterations we’ve been through, it’s more in line with the purpose and vision of the character area of ​​the gateway right now.”

Commissioner Brian Johns said he had no problem with the diversions and called the project “incredible”.

Chairman Jan Simons said his only concern was that there would be enough parking spaces to support both residential and commercial uses.

That said, he added, “I remember this corner being offered to us…which just looked like it was thrown together.

“So I really appreciate how far we’ve come on that. I think it will complete the other side with Epicenter, I think that would be great.

Following the study session, the Commission, at its regular meeting, voted unanimously to recommend that Council approve the Minor General Plan Amendment and rezoning of 14.47 acres for Traditions at Fred’s Square.

Currently, the land at the northeast corner of Recker and Williams Field roads in the planned community of Cooley Station is zoned Village Center, but under the proposal, 4.95 acres would be used for a shopping center and 9.52 acres for multi-family dwellings.

The developer proposes to construct 93 one- and two-storey self-contained and semi-detached rental units and 20,000 square feet of commercial space.

Planner Keith Newman said around 20 people attended a neighborhood meeting last September and raised a number of concerns, including the number of apartments already under construction in the immediate area, increasing congestion and traffic density.

“Since the neighborhood meeting, the staff has not been directed by any owner,” Newman told the Commission.

But Bob Bauer, who said he lives 700 feet north of the site, raised concerns at the meeting about whether there was enough parking for commercial uses and with the residential density.

Plaintiff Greg Davis of Iplan Consulting Corp. told commissioners that the project exceeded the number of commercial parking lots required under city code and also met residential parking requirements.

He also addressed Bauer’s concern with density.

“The density commentary, we hear that a lot in almost every project,” Davis said. “This project is so much less dense, so much less intense than it would be under the current zoning. Current zoning allows for 300 to 700 units. We’re at 93.”

He added that the proposed commercial component would also be less intense use than under the current zoning.

The land is the last remaining area of ​​the Gieszl family farm. The family is partnering with Circle G Property Development on the project and has no plans to sell the land.