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‘Bad fit’ or ‘short-sighted’? Residents voice opinions on proposed 4-story apartments on Bend’s Westside

(Update: Adding video, comments from developer, residents for and against)

BEND, Ore. (KTVZ) -- A proposed 42 unit apartment building on the corner of Mt. Washington Drive and Awbrey Road. in Bend, is in the city land-use process and accepting public comment.

Public opinion in the city application file on the project has seen strong opinions in both directions.

Scott Steele is the president of Steele Associates Architects, the firm designing the “Compass Corner” project.

“It's very common to get a lot of passionate input, but some of it’s useful, some of it's not,” Steele said Wednesday.

Steele was born and raised in Bend, and thinks the area’s desperate for more high-density housing.

“I grew up on the Eastside young, lived in the Westside on Awbrey Butte for 25 years, and mixing in some much-needed apartment housing and a nice development like this on the Westside, I think, would be very useful,” Steele said. 

However, some residents, like Awbrey Butte Neighborhood Association Chair Hans Jorgensen, are concerned about parking space, increased traffic, and the size.

“Many of the local community here feel that this tall structure does not meet or doesn’t fit this neighborhood’s feel,” Jorgensen said. 

The building is set to be four stories tall, with the first floor being partly commercial for maybe a coffee shop or convenience store. 

The project could be completed in the next two years.

“There would be more acceptance if the building were shorter, rather than taller, '' Jorgensen said. 

Steele said because the first floor will be commercial, the height meets city code.

Regardless, Steel said taller is necessary.

“We need density. If you don’t have density and vertical development, that creates more sprawl, and we don’t want that, either,” Steel said. 

Bend resident Chris Martin lives in the River West neighborhood on the Westside and thinks the four-story building will look fine.

“And in fact, I think that’s better use of the land than trying to spread it out over only one or two stories,” Martin said. 

He feels for some, it's more of a *location* issue.

“They want it all to be over on the Eastside, and aside from the fact that that’s not good land use, that’s just not fair,” Martin said. “I think that it’s very short-sighted for a lot of folks to say, 'No we don’t want it in our backyard.'”

Steele emphasized the apartment project is not classified as affordable housing, but will be competitive in the market.

The city has extended the public comment period on the project until August 22nd.

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Noah Chast

Noah Chast is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Noah here.


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