A Commons Mistake
Residents don’t want these oversized townhomes
By Gary Delsohn
Katherine Bardis and her husband, Bay Miry, are a local development team that does quality work with a good reputation.
Born into the building business, they have fathers who ran successful development firms and continue to leave a positive mark on the community.
Working together as Bardis & Miry Development, the couple continues the family legacies with contributions of their own.
From the residential The Mill at Broadway to attractive apartments and gracious renovations in Midtown, their developments fit and wear well.
But the couple’s latest project, a proposed residential development at 707 Commons Drive adjacent to earth-toned townhomes and wooded walkways of Campus Commons, has encountered significant neighborhood resistance.
Not everyone is opposed to the proposal. But if the old real estate adage still stands that a developer’s success depends on location, location, location, this could turn into a rare Bardis and Miry misstep.
Disclosure: My wife and I have lived in Campus Commons for about five years and love the laid-back, walkable, tree-rich community.
As described on the Lyon Real Estate website, “Campus Commons is nestled along the American River Parkway between Fair Oaks Boulevard and Howe Avenue. It is one of Sacramento’s most low-key luxury communities surrounded by lush greenery, recreational opportunity and urban amenities.”
Bardis told me she was surprised by the hostile reaction in November when she came to a Campus Commons community meeting to discuss her plans.
The idea is to tear down a nondescript, two-story, mostly empty office building on the 1.5-acre site Bardis and Miry bought last spring for $2.07 million. A slight hill would be flattened and the building replaced with 24 three-story townhomes, featuring three and four bedrooms. Trees would be removed. Other than garages under the townhomes, there are no plans for additional visitor parking.
Increased traffic and other impacts won’t bother me as much as neighbors along Commons Drive. I live farther away. But from preliminary plans shared so far—densely situated white, multi-level homes close to sidewalks, with little open space—Campus Commons residents I’ve talked to say it’s the wrong development in the wrong place.
“It’s a quality project,” David Lane, chair of the Campus Commons Park Corporation board of directors, says. “For Downtown.”
In fact, the developers say this project is similar to what they built at 1234 U St. in Midtown, a successful townhome cluster called Albright Village. It’s in stark contrast to Campus Commons. In a letter to city planners, Lane says it violates the city’s General Plan.
Albright Village has an urban feel, with tightly packed white townhomes and little open space. It’s fine for U Street. At Campus Commons, it would be an outlier, different from everything around it.
In his letter to the planning department, Lane, a lawyer who lives on Commons Drive and spent years as a contract attorney for towns in the Central Valley, says the Bardis and Miry development “would stick out and be a blight rather than an asset.”
“The current development on this property presents a consistent and conforming appearance,” he writes about the existing Campus Commons community. “There are concerns that the proposed development is not only not consistent in appearance but actually presents a significant conflict with the entire Campus Commons neighborhood.”
Although Bardis says plans for the project are still being refined, it’s not clear what leverage residents have over the proposal. No zoning change is needed, but developers must receive various approvals from the city, which has promised a hearing on the site plan, tree permit entitlements and urban design issues.
“This project and its impact in the surrounding community is of high importance to us and we are following the issue closely,” KaSandra Soto, district rep for City Council member Eric Guerra, wrote to Lane.
She encouraged residents to send written comments to city planner Zach Dahla at firstname.lastname@example.org and share concerns.
It remains to be seen whether residents can stop or substantially change the proposed development. But based on what I’ve heard around the neighborhood, there’s no doubt they will keep trying.
Gary Delsohn can be reached at email@example.com. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram: @insidesacramento.