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Kansas / Elsey seeks community support on Anderson Village proposal

Elsey seeks community support on Anderson Village proposal

Developer Chris Elsey has a vision for 1445 Anderson Ave., even as potential neighbors have come out against it.

He hopes to build Anderson Village, a $50 million, six-story residential and commercial complex. The complex would have a 125-room hotel, 725 apartment beds and a 378-stall parking garage along Anderson Avenue between 14th and 16th streets, near K-State, Manhattan Christian College and Aggieville.

“To me, I don’t see a better site,” Elsey said. “I mean you’re right there, you’re like a block from any of those things. … The opportunity’s presented itself to do it.”

However, not everyone agrees with Elsey’s proposal, including Kevin Ingram, president of Manhattan Christian College.

Ingram said he’s concerned with the complex’s close proximity to the college’s campus, population density in the area and parking issues.

He also said the complex would drastically change the area around it, as it doesn’t fit the nature of the neighborhood.

“It’s going to go from sidewalk to sidewalk to sidewalk to within about 10 foot of our campus,” Ingram said. “And I just don’t think it fits the nature of the neighborhood and everything else.”

The other neighbor of the proposed complex is K-State.

University representatives did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Mercury.

If he’s successful in the development process, this wouldn’t be the first time Elsey broke ground in the Little Apple.

Along with his twin brother, Bryan, the duo manages Prime Design, Prime Built and Prime Place, which are design and contracting companies. Prime Place KSU is an apartment complex at 1532 College Ave.; Elsey started that project in 2005. He also completed apartment complex projects along Moro and Vattier streets.

“Basically, we had a project every year,” he said.

He also proposed a site on Denison Avenue and College Heights Road, but it was denied, he said.

The idea behind 1445 Anderson Ave. is pedestrian-centered: Elsey wants to encourage more walking — instead of driving — with the construction of this complex.

“One of the things they taught us in school is if you can have a pedestrian environment, rather than a vehicular one, it’s just a better community,” he said.

Elsey has developed complexes across the nation in cities such as Los Angeles, San Francisco, Minneapolis and Lincoln, Nebraska. He said he built 1,000 bedrooms in Stillwater, Oklahoma, home of Oklahoma State University.

He said this complex could entice potential K-State students at a time when the university’s student population is declining.

In addition, Elsey notified Ingram about potentially housing MCC students in the complex, but that didn’t resonate with the college, Ingram said.

“Just the community that we have on campus, it would radically change it,” Ingram said. “It’s just obviously a less-controlled environment.”

Elsey, a 2006 K-State graduate, grew up in Denver, and arrived to Manhattan in 2001. His parents both went to school at K-State. He graduated with a master’s degree in landscape architecture and has lived in Manhattan ever since.

“I was interested in architecture, and K-State’s got a good architecture program,” Elsey said. “And I thought the people were really friendly. And so came to school here, I really liked it.”

Elsey began working in property management after graduation.

“There weren’t a whole lot of landscape architecture jobs, and so I kinda got into the property management business,” he said.

In regards to the complex, Renters Together MHK, an advocacy group for affordable housing, said in a press release that the organization does not support it.

“In a time where individuals making minimum wage must work 2.5 full-time jobs in Manhattan to afford a modest two-bedroom apartment, Renters Together MHK is dedicated to expanding affordable housing stock within the city,” the release said.

The organization asked Elsey to hold another public meeting discussing the complex.

Elsey said he’s still talking to the community about the proposal. He didn’t provide a project timeline, but he said he wants to gain public support for the initiative.

Elsey proposed two parking zones to address the parking situation around the proposed complex.

One proposed parking zone wouldn’t allow anyone to park on 14th Street or Anderson, Denison or Leavenworth avenues between 8 a.m. through 5 p.m. every day.

The other parking zone would be the reverse, not allowing people to park their cars in the same areas from 5 p.m. to 8 a.m. every day.

Elsey said permits would be available for renters and homeowners under the proposal.

An entity opposed to the proposed parking zones is the Eugene Field Neighborhood Association.

Tim Lindemuth, president of the Eugene Field Neighborhood Association — which is the neighborhood where the complex is proposed — said the group did not support the idea.

“The neighborhood leadership felt it was in bad faith to them that we entertain your suggestion,” Lindemuth said in an email to Elsey.

Additionally, Ingram thought the parking zones proposed by Elsey were a premature step.

“I think that’s premature. I’m more concerned about the concerns of the project itself before we even start looking at other stuff like that,” Ingram said. “And there are already parking zones here, which obviously help control the parking right here around our campus.

“We appreciate the zones that are already in place that the city has put into place. But I think that’s a pretty big one to tackle at this point in the game.”

Hailey Dixon

Hailey Dixon

The Manhattan Mercury