Townhome project approved for former library property

Rendering of the townhomes in Library Square as proposed by Ruger Kerstiens.

The Jasper Redevelopment Commission approved a proposal to add 18 townhomes to the former location of the Jasper Public Library in Library Park.

The commission considered a proposal from Kerstiens Homes and Designs as well as one from Pfaff Construction as part of plans to develop the property.

Kerstiens plans on adding 18 high-end 1,100 square foot two-bedroom townhomes that will rent for about $1,150 monthly. He stated the development is about a $2 million investment in the property bordered by Main, 11th, 12th, and Jackson streets. The homes will face Main and Jackson and have off-street parking available behind each unit.

“This project will be one of a kind in Jasper,” Kerstiens told the commission Tuesday. “I do believe it’s the perfect northern anchor for the Heart of Jasper district and can also be a catalyst for future developments in the area.”

Kerstiens said they plan on complimenting the historical aesthetic of the surrounding homes as much as possible. Parking on Main Street would not be impacted by his plan, he told the commission.

Jared Pfaff informed the commission he planned on building eight single-story or story-and-a-half homes with variable layouts and design elements. The homes would have two-car garages and an estimated sale price of about $275,000.

Pfaff said he felt the project would attract families seeking low maintenance homes who also want to live close to the downtown area.

During the meeting, the commission heard some comments from neighboring property owners.

Rebekah Hall told the commission she was concerned about the impact on the historical aesthetic of the area. Her home located on Main Street was build at the turn of the century and other homes in the area are even older. “These are new houses being built in old neighborhoods where a lot of people have spent a lot of time and money to keep it preserved,” she said adding she hoped the commission took that into consideration with whatever plan they approved.

Pfaff said they are designing bungalow-style homes to fit into the area but that it would add to the costs for the new homes. He said they planned on blending into the neighborhood as much as possible without pushing up those costs.

Kerstiens said his designs were a starting point and would also blend as much as possible with the area’s character but pointed out it would be difficult to match the styles in the area since there are so many different styles already there.

Two residents in the area recommended they leave the park as a green space during the meeting.

Josh Gunselman, the chair of the Board of Zoning Appeals, sent the redevelopment commission an email stating that in his personal opinion the townhomes were the best fit for the property. He based this on the transitory nature of the property and the various commercial entities around it. He also stated that the townhomes were, in his opinion, more in line with the city’s current comprehensive plan.

Kim Mitchell, owner of the nearby restaurant, Snaps, sent a letter to the commission imploring them to not reduce parking in the area due to the perceived impact it would have on local businesses.

Three members of the redevelopment commission felt the townhomes development would be the best fit for the area with the greatest potential to meet the requests of the neighbors and businesses in regards to aesthetics and parking. Commission members Laura Grammer and Phil Mundy both voted against the proposal. They supported the home development due to the investment in the homes and perceived benefit of the investment in Jasper by those future homeowners. Grammer stated she felt the homes would be more conducive to creating community.

Ultimately, the townhome idea appealed to the three members due to the quick execution, the lower impact on parking in the area, and the future redevelopment plans for the area.

The next step is for Kerstiens to complete designs and begin the process of completing any regulatory steps with the city to begin construction.