Bedford City Council chambers were packed as council members considered changes to the proposed “Bedford Commons” project.
The project includes apartments and townhomes and would stretch several city blocks and eventually engulf the current city hall. There is the possibility of construction of a new city hall in the future as part of phase two of the project.
The Bedford Parc community is next to the proposed site.
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“We don't need more apartments. That's not the answer for Bedford,” Rick Harwell, president of the community’s Homeowners Association said.
He explained the plan for Bedford Commons has been discussed for years.
“There were lofts and condos that were supposed to be above small businesses that were supposed to be enticing to bring citizens to a green space area,” Harwell said.
Harwell and many of his neighbors became concerned when they did not see shops or restaurants in the first phase plans.
“It's supposed to be this cultural destination, but who's going to go to that,” he asked.
Mayor Jim Griffin said the businesses and bistros will likely come in time.
“You have to build the living components first to attract the restaurants, the business owners and the other kinds of business,” he said.
Griffin also explained the project would create townhomes that would flank the concerned community.
“They are going to be buffered by 25 patio / townhomes that will be owner-occupied,” he said.
Developers asked council members for 52 changes and one deals with commercial space. They asked for required commercial-ready construction and commercial usage.
Griffin said more of the green space would come in phase two that could also usher in a new city hall.
But still for some neighbors, their concerns remain for now.
“We've talked to realtors in the area and they tell us when they put a new apartment complex next to us it's going to reduce our housing values by about 15 percent to 20 percent,” Harwell said,