City councilors have approved a zoning change that will allow for the construction of an apartment complex at the northeast corner of Blue Starr Drive and Sioux Avenue.
The motion passed 6 to 1 with Ward II Councilor Brian Callender dissenting and two people absent for the regular city council meeting on Monday.
Callendar told the meeting that his main concern was traffic on Blue Starr and that it needed to be addressed before building an apartment complex.
Ward II councilor Justin Michael said the majority of the community was in favor and there was a need for housing.
“This council is bound to provide and meet the needs of this city – not just for the neighborhood we are in,” he said.
The Lodge Apartments will be a seven-building, three-story apartment complex with 222 units. There will be a variety of amenities, including a gated entrance, covered parking, a saltwater pool, and a dog park.
Ferguson Property Group chairman Glenn Ferguson said there will be studios, 1-bedroom and 2-bedroom apartments available.
Construction is due to start early in the year and should be ready in spring 2023, he said.
“We hope to start early in the year,” he said. “We hope to have local contractors that we can use. We would like to use as many Claremore based companies as possible.
Ferguson said their operation of the Chalet Apartments has shown that there is a strong need in Claremore for quality multi-family housing.
“We believe the Lodge will help meet some of these needs,” he said.
Ferguson purchased the Chalet Apartments in October 2018. They renovated the current 99 units and purchased land to build an additional 120 units.
During the meeting, Ferguson said they had rented all of those apartments within four months and had a waiting list of 40 people.
That waiting list is what prompted the conversation to add another property to Claremore, he said at the meeting.
“We really thought Claremore was a booming business,” he said. “We were really impressed with the growth we thought Claremore was going to have. “
Ferguson Property Group is based in Tulsa and owns properties in Arkansas, Southern Kansas and Sapulpa.
Several residents of Oak Ridge Drive attended the meeting and spoke out against the zoning change, saying the apartment complex would be inappropriate and that there were better uses for this property.
Oak Ridge Drive resident Angela Henderson opposed the zone request.
“I recognize that housing is needed in Claremore and Rogers County, especially short-term housing like apartment complexes,” she said. “There are other lots available in the city that would better suit this purpose. “
Henderson said apartment complexes with this density and height are incompatible with surrounding homes and compromise home values.
“The three-story apartment complexes stand in stark contrast to these one- and two-story dwellings,” she said.
Claremore Public School Superintendent Bryan Frazier also spoke out against the complex.
Frazier said he moved to the area three years ago, it was hard to find a home, and moved to the Oak Ridge Drive area because they loved it.
“We bought too many houses because we loved the area, and we also bought two and a half acres,” he said. “We thought it was important to know who was behind us, to be perfectly honest. We knew what the zoning was, but let’s be transparent, no one wants to go out of their garden in the morning with their coffee and see a three story apartment.
Frazier said the infrastructure is not prepared for any type of entry or exit on Blue Starr Drive.
“It’s amazing how it is,” he said. “If you add 212 units, over 300 cars, we’re not prepared for that. “
Claremore town planner Kyle Clifton said he conducted a housing study in 2015 and knew housing would be an issue.
“We urgently need rental housing in Claremore,” he said.
Clifton said he did a quick survey six weeks ago of about 15 apartment complexes in Claremore, or about 1,270 units.
Of those units, only 12 were available and nine were for seniors only, he said.
“Of all the units available in those 15 apartment complexes, we had three available,” he said.
Clifton said most resorts have a 60-day wait list, with some going on the 120-day wait list.
“There is definitely a very high demand here,” he said.
Jordan White, business development coordinator at the Claremore Industrial and Economic Development Authority, spoke in favor of the article and said his duty was to recruit companies to bring their business to Claremore. He said his job is to eliminate any issues that could prevent a business from coming to town.
The pressing problem is the growing need for available labor in Claremore and Rogers County, he said.
White said that at the end of August there were about 440 vacancies in the Claremore Industrial Park.
“Our best recruiting efforts fail without the presence of a dynamic workforce,” he said.
White said housing has been a long-standing obstacle with only 20 units available in Claremore, Pryor and Owasso.
“The lack of housing is hampering the growth of our existing businesses, large and small,” he said.