New Prospect Park housing projects bring questions from residents

Residents have voiced mixed reactions to proposed housing projects like Aeon and Vermilion.

Kassidy Tarala

As Prospect Park approves new large-scale housing projects, some residents are concerned about a lack of consideration by the neighborhood association.

Prospect Park Association has approved new housing projects like Prospect Park Properties’ Green on Fourth, Vermilion Development’s Arts and Architecture Building and Aeon’s new affordable housing unit in past years. The neighborhood has received some backlash from residents, who believe the rapid development could have unintended consequences.

Prospect Park resident Trina Porte said she’s skeptical of new developments advertised as affordable housing. She said the units are often occupied by students rather than families in need.

“Several of them aren’t affordable,” she said. “When it costs $1,000 to $2,000 [a month], that isn’t affordable in my opinion.”

Porte said she’s concerned that PPA passes every project without considering how it will affect the neighborhood.

The Aeon project will have 70 units of mixed-income housing, which is predominantly for families of two or three people, said Aeon Vice President of Housing Development Blake Hopkins.

Located at 3001 4th St. SE, 90 percent of the affordable housing units will be reserved for people with low incomes and mothers coming out of homelessness with children, he said.

“This building will be high-quality but will serve a new demographic that should be represented in the neighborhood,” Hopkins said.

After meeting several times with PPA and members of the community, Hopkins said he has received nothing but strong support for their project.

Hopkins said he will keep residents’ safety concerns in mind as the project is completed. He said a property manager will be on-site full time to ensure safety is a priority.

“We’re confident that this property will function smoothly and serve the needs of both tenants and community members,” he said.

Prospect Park resident Josh Purple said he’s glad to see that there’s a chance for positive development in the neighborhood, but he does have concerns about the new developments’ increased density and lack of parking.

“Population density will continue to climb, parking problems need to be addressed and if the tower is crowded out by overly tall buildings, the community will not see the projects as a benefit,” he said.

Parking and commuting will impact the safety of the neighborhood, Purple said. Families with children will have to worry about their kids being at risk in overcrowded residential streets, and emergency vehicles and buses will have problems getting through, he said.

John Kari, vice chair of the PPA  Land Use Committee, said the community members he’s spoken with have expressed excitement for the new housing projects.

“We’ve been trying to get affordable workforce housing for families for a long time, and it’s something residents have always wanted to see,” Kari said.

Affordable housing will benefit the neighborhood by letting employees of daycares, senior living buildings and local businesses live near where they work.

To make sure the new developments meet the needs of the neighborhood, Kari said PPA works closely with the developers address any resident concerns.

“There have been concerns about walkability, lighting and safety, so we keep those in mind when working with developers,” he said.