Neighborhood meeting details Village Green plans

New housing plans for the Village Green property were presented to the public in a virtual neighborhood meeting last Thursday, Jan. 27.

The Pine Springs Master Plan calls for a total of about 1.5 acres of common open spaces mixed in between 120 apartments and 61 long-term bicycle parking spaces.

In all, the apartments will occupy about eight acres of the site, allowing the Village Green Hotel and about 40 guest rooms to remain along with the existing Village Green RV Park.

The Village Green shut its doors at the end of September last year as ownership switched hands, effectively closing a chapter as the 61-year-old facility enters a new phase.

The new owners are a family-owned businesses, said Teresa Bishow of Bishow Consulting LLC at the virtual meeting.

She and Colin Kelley of Timberview Construction spoke on behalf of the property owners during last week’s virtual session, which saw a number of neighborhood residents log in.

The Pine Springs Apartments will be constructed on a portion of what has been known historically as the Village Green hotel site, mainly in the northeast corner of the property.

The entrance to the Village Green property is likely to remain in the same place, but traffic studies may cause an adjustment.

Once entering the site, there will be a loop system with some open spaces in the core and along the edges of the property.

The apartments will be two-story buildings, each with four units on the ground floor that are single-level and second-floor units with balconies. Ground floor units will have back patios.

The apartments will also have an on-site manager as well as a place for residents to get their mail.

Potentially, there will be commercial buildings along Row River Road as the land is still zoned commercial.

Bishow reaffirmed that the development will not impact the current RV park on the property, which serves as an affordable housing option for many. Kelley added that developers may even expand the park from its current 37 spaces and make improvements.

While the hotel, restaurant and the courtyard behind it will be retained, the new owners are looking for a third party to buy the business. Kelley said the intention is to find a local buyer to manage this portion.

“Because I know the restaurant and bar specifically were a hit for a lot of the community members, we hope to get that up and running as soon as we find a hotel operator,” he said. “We just want to find somebody that really wants to invest back into the hotel.”

The developers, however, do not intend on keeping the old pool and hot tub area. Instead, they aim to retain some of the larger trees and create an open recreation area where the residents can walk and enjoy being outdoors.

While the Village Green’s iconic garden is not being kept, not all of it is lost, either. Several plants were transplanted by a local nursery, a small bridge was donated to the city’s golf course and a cabin was donated to another property in the community.

Along the edge of I-5, there will be a continuous landscape buffer.

“We’re not proposing a big wall or anything, but many of those trees should be able to be preserved,” said Bishow. “Many of them are actually on ODOT (Oregon Department of Transportation) property and won’t be affected by the project at all.”

The vision for the overall site is to allow for interactions between the commercial and residential elements of the property.

“I think everything would work very cohesively and be a kind of live-work-play type environment,” said Kelley.

However, before selling the hotel and restaurant, he added, the master plan must be finished and lot lines adjusted.

“So as soon as we get approvals, we’d be looking to put it up for sale and hopefully find an interested party that’s looking to invest,” he said.

Construction is due to begin in the spring of 2023 and is expected to take a full year to complete. The project is currently in its master plan phase for the apartments and will at some point be required to come before the Cottage Grove Planning Commission for a public hearing.

Bishow said several of the steps along the way will provide a chance for the public to voice opinions, too.

“They all have some form of public participation and notice, so if any of you feel more comfortable contacting the city and asking to receive notice, you could certainly do that,” she said to the virtual audience.

And work has already begun. Some of the old buildings, which will require asbestos abatement, were due to come down this week.

“We want to get this project done as soon as possible,” said Kelley. “And I know there’s a need for housing in Cottage Grove like there is in a lot of kind of smaller communities, so I think this would be a great project. And we’re excited to get moving as fast as we can.”

Kelley added that the apartments are intended as long-term holds.

“We’re not looking to flip,” he said.

While the RV park offers an affordable housing option, the apartments are aimed to be market-rate housing.

One area resident in the virtual meeting voiced concern about the traffic that may be generated by the construction project and the eventual filling of apartments.

Bishow said the city is requiring the developer to do a traffic study and send out engineers to conduct traffic counts, looking at the intersections that are the most impacted. That information is due to be included with the application that is officially submitted to the city.

Given the location of the site, ODOT will also be taking a look at the traffic.

“The traffic study will look at the rate, if any, of traffic accidents and how that could be affected in general,” said Bishow. “And I know we don’t like hearing this, but in general, if there’s a little bit of congestion, the traffic speed decreases. Because it’s just human nature; it’s a little busier and actually the speed drops.”

A licensed traffic engineer will also be looking at the intersection at Jim Wright Way and the Village Green access point on Row River Road to determine if a traffic signal is warranted.

“And we don’t have the traffic study yet, but we do believe to exit the Village Green property, it would be best to make sure the driveway aligns with Jim Wright Way,” said Bishow. “It might require a slight adjustment to the location of the driveway so that it’s a true four-way intersection.”

A civil engineer and technical experts looking at stormwater will also be involved in the overall planning process, she said.

Kelley added that the Pine Springs Apartments parking ratio comes out to 1.9 parking spaces per unit, so the habitation at the apartment complex should not cause parking congestion.

“We look forward to working with the community and bringing some housing and getting the hotel back up and running,” he said.

For more information, Teresa Bishow can be reached by email at [email protected]

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