LUBBOCK, Texas – The battle between the Tech Terrace U.N.I.T. Neighborhood Association and student housing developer, Up Campus, has spilled out even more into the public square.
U.N.I.T. is an acronym for the neighborhood association that stands for University, Nineteenth, Indiana, Thirty-fourth, the bounding streets of Tech Terrace.
When EverythingLubbock.com first reported about the possibility of student apartments coming to Tech Terrace, the neighborhood’s residents were strongly against it then, and their feelings still haven’t changed.
“It’s been a big day for us,” said Don Richards, chairman of the Tech Terrace U.N.I.T. ad hoc committee. “We’ve made a major filing today.”
That filing is the neighborhood association’s ‘Motion to Dismiss’ with the Lubbock Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) which wouldn’t allow Chicago-based Up Campus to follow through with its newest zoning request.
“They have filed a new application, made some changes, and are seeking to go forward and take it back again to planning and zoning,” Richards said.
At Thursday night’s neighborhood association meeting, over 80 Tech Terrace residents attended. Since last year, a majority of them have tried to stop Up Campus from building a multistory housing project facing 19th St. and 20th St. between University Ave. and Boston Ave., where the Godbold Cultural Center and Cafe J are currently located.
According to Up Campus, the development would have two buildings. The building along 19th St. would be five stories and the building along 20th St. would have four stories.
Back on Nov. 3, 2022, P&Z voted 6-3 against the prior zoning change, but just before the new year on Dec. 22, Up Campus submitted a new plan.
“The first building that’s on 19th is actually exactly the same as the one they presented to us in November,” said Sheryl Gonzales, a resident of Tech Terrace. “There’s no difference. It’s slightly different on 20th. Now, the number of beds is 600, instead of 740.”
Up Campus’ most recently filed case, #3471-C, is currently scheduled to be voted on at the next P&Z meeting on Feb. 2 at City Hall. The proposed student housing project includes an approximate 600-bed facility, with covered parking for more than 500 vehicles.
“It’s got some design changes in it,” Richards said. “It’s still objectionable for all the same reasons, even though it’s a little bit different.”
This is the fourth filing from Up Campus in five months.
The main concern for residents is the traffic and congestion it would bring to the northeastern part of the historical residential area.
“If you’re coming to that intersection from the four cardinal directions, all of them coming from the west require you to do a U-turn on 19th St. or cut through the neighborhood,” said J.R. Norton, a member of the Tech Terrace U.N.I.T. ad hoc committee. “This isn’t a real easy property to get in and out of. It’s a big problem.”
The association argues Up Campus shouldn’t be able to refile for at least a year according to city zoning laws.
“Our contention is that the Planning and Zoning Commission no longer has jurisdiction to hear this case,” Richards said. “We think that the applicant Up Campus did not have a right to refile it again, with the planning and zoning, and that planning and zoning does not have the authority or jurisdiction now to hear this case, based on what’s taking place.”
Residents are hoping to keep their neighborhood the same as it’s always been – diverse and historic.
“We’ve been fighting this for six months,” Gonzales said. “We won’t quit fighting. I don’t care how long it takes. I don’t think people realize how bonded our neighborhood is, and how much we love Lubbock and Tech Terrace. We’re going to fight for our values and our neighborhood.”
The Tech Terrace residents who attended Thursday’s meeting still have the Feb. 2 P&Z meeting on their calendars to oppose the plan once again if necessary. The commission will have to decide to either accept or deny the association’s ‘Motion to Dismiss.’
If the new plan is heard and approved, all existing structures on the Godbold Cultural Center and the Lutheran Student Center, would have to be torn down.
For more information on the proposed housing project and the ‘Motion to Dismiss,’ visit Tech Terrace U.N.I.T.’s website.