43-unit hillside project begins at King & 19th

       Construction began last month on the Alta Mira subdivision near King and 19th streets. Formerly known as Indian Heights, Alta Mira will have 43 single-family homes, cut partly into the hillside along a new cul-de-sac to be called Mountain Mahogany Drive.
       The street will be just east of - and parallel to - Oswego Street, on the lower part of what is known as the Mesa. Sixteen homes will be on the east side of the street and 27 on its west side, according to the plan. The lots will average about 5,000 square feet each, with the remainder of the 15 acres dedicated for open space.
       Cooperating in the project is the Palmer Land Trust, which owns the publicly accessible, 24-acre Mesa Wildlife Preserve just north of it. The non-profit entity is providing an emergency right of way so that, if necessary, vehicles can go from the north end of the cul-de-sac over to Oswego's dead end, according to Dave VanDerWege, executive director of the Trust.
       Part of the open space in Alta Mira allows access to the preserve, said Ted Waterman, the project manager (and former owner).
       In conjunction with the development, a trail is to be developed through the preserve, near the Alta Mira boundary, in hopes of eliminating a previous problem of people (typically Holmes Middle School students) criss-crossing the public land and partly going through private property off Mesa Road, VanDerWege said.
       The development had been controversial during the planning and approval process in 2003. Before the plan received City Council approval, a consortium of nearby neighborhood associations filed a formal appeal to council asking for denial. These groups were from the Mesa Road, Pleasant Valley and Friendship Crescent areas. Their arguments included potential geologic and stability hazards (because of the cuts into the hillside), building heights (above the Oswego properties), visual impacts (7,200 feet of retaining walls) and potential drainage problems.
       The project was approved by the city in place of a previous plan for the property that would have created 50 lots, 35 of which would have been duplexes.
       Although recognizing that it's impossible to please everyone, Waterman said he thinks that for the most part the neighborhood is satisfied with how the project plans turned out. The density is less than the old plan, a perennial 19th/King flooding problem is being fixed, Alta Mira's two-level homes will “appear as single story,” and landscape buffers will be created between Mountain Mahog-any and Oswego, he said.
       “I'm convinced, from a standpoint of housing, this development will fit,” Waterman said. “It will lift values on Oswego, and it won't hurt on Mesa Road.”
       A completion date is not yet known. Waterman said the units will be priced somewhere above those on Oswego and below those on Mesa.

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