Developer plans to build housing for 900 students in northwest Corvallis

Plans for a large student housing complex on the Witham Oaks property will go before the Corvallis Planning Commission in August.

Campus Crest, a North Carolina student housing developer, filed initial land use applications in December 2011. The company wants to build a 296-unit apartment complex at Witham Oaks, a 95-acre property west of 36th Street off Northwest Harrison Boulevard.

Called The Grove at Corvallis, the $37.5 million development would have a total of 900 bedrooms and would be marketed to students at Oregon State University.

Campus Crest intends to build on about 25 acres of the wooded site and dedicate 61 acres as open space. The remaining acreage would be taken up with streets and sidewalks, including an extension of Circle Boulevard down to Harrison that is mandated by the city’s transportation master plan.

The wooded Witham Oaks property was annexed into the city by voters in 2004. A previous owner planned to build 221 single-family homes on the site but walked away from the venture after the housing market crashed, forcing the company into bankruptcy protection.

Before Campus Crest can build apartments on the site, however, it has to obtain a zoning change from low-density residential to medium-high-density residential, with a corresponding change to the city’s comprehensive plan.

The company also is seeking comp plan and zoning map amendments to create an open space conservation designation for the portion of the property it does not intend to build on, as well as approval for its subdivision and development plans.

Those requests will be the topic of discussion at a public hearing before the Planning Commission, tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. on Aug. 7, though the date may change if the developer submits any additional plan changes that require review.

Most Planning Commission hearings are held in the upstairs meeting room of the downtown fire station, but Planning Division Manager Kevin Young said the city is trying to line up a bigger venue.

“We’re looking at an alternate location for this,” Young said. “We’re anticipating a large crowd.”

A crowd of more than 75 people filled the fire station room and spilled out into the hallway for the June 5 hearing on the Coronado apartments.

Student housing developments have become a controversial topic in Corvallis as OSU enrollment has ballooned, and the Campus Crest proposal has been panned by the Friends of Witham Oaks, a citizens group formed to preserve the entire 95-acre site as open space.

Young said the city would send out formal notices to neighboring property owners and other interested parties when the time and location of the hearing are confirmed.

Contact reporter Bennett Hall at bennett.hall@gazettetimes.com or 541-758-9529.

IF YOU GO

WHAT: The Corvallis Planning Commission will hold a public hearing on zoning change and related requests to allow construction of The Grove at Corvallis, a 296-unit student apartment complex on the Witham Oaks property

WHEN: Tentatively scheduled for 7 p.m. Aug. 7

WHERE: To be determined

HAVE YOUR SAY: Oral testimony will be taken at the meeting, and written comments can be submitted via email to kevin.young@corvallisoregon.gov.

Reporter Bennett Hall can be contacted at 541-758-9529 or bennett.hall@gazettetimes.com.

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Special Projects Editor

Special Projects Editor, Corvallis Gazette-Times and Albany Democrat-Herald

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