New housing units proposed at realty office
Abbotsford’s planning commission has signed off on a plan to convert the old Kramer-Schiferl Realty office on East Spruce Street into a six-unit residential facility with room for up to nine tenants.
Mike Hryndej of Mykhail, LLC came before the commission at its June 9 meeting to discuss his plans for repurposing the former real estate office into a rental property with living space for three couples and three individuals.
Hryndej, who owns several other rental properties within the city, is required to obtain a special use permit because the building is located within the commercial district along Business 29.
City administrator Dan Grady noted that there are residential properties within other commercial districts throughout the city, so Hryndej’s idea is not unprecedented.
Grady also reminded the commission that state law requires municipalities to approve conditional use permits in most situations, unless the city can provide verifiable evidence to reject the application. Otherwise, the city is limited to setting reasonable conditions on the permit.
Hryndej said the building has a couple of larger rooms and three smaller ones that he wants to make into living quarters. The building also has two bathrooms, and a pair of sinks, and he plans on installing at least two showers.
A full-sized kitchen is already located in the building, and Hryndej plans on putting in a stove and refrigerator for a communal cooking and dining area.
His plans for the building also include a coin-operated laundry machine, security cameras near the entryways and locked doors with a doorbell so tenants have to let in any guests themselves.
A couple commission members raised questions about whether the building has enough space for nine people to live.
Mayor Lori Voss thought the city’s ordinance might require a certain number of square feet per tenant, but Grady said there’s no requirement like that for dwellings in Abbotsford.
When Voss asked Hryndej if this would be like “dorm-style living,” he agreed with that description.
“It’s a starter for people coming into this area and not having a place to rent,” he said.
The units would be marketed to people who can’t afford a mobile home or fullscale apartment, he said. With the cost of utilities included in their rent, he said they could save up money over time before moving somewhere else.
Hryndej said he wants his tenants to sign a one-year lease, though he’s willing to offer six-month rental agreements to short-term workers who don’t plan on staying that long.
“As long as their background all checks out, I have no problem doing six months with that person because it’s going to be a one-time deal,” he said.
As evidence of demand for the type of housing he’s proposing, Hryndej said he has a waiting list of 30 to 40 people waiting to move into some place nicer than where they currently live.
All of his rental agreements include a “two-strike” rule, so if the police are called to deal with a tenant more than once, they get evicted, he said.
Hryndej said his parents operated a local trailer court for over 20 years, and ran “a nice, tight ship,” which is something he does with his own rental properties.
“My name is out there enough, they trust me and know I’m not a slum lord,” he said. “They know they’re getting a good, clean facility to stay in.”
When it comes to parking at the new location, he said he’s going to have all of his tenants parked in the back of the lot, with space available in the front for visitors.
Hryndej said he does not allow unregistered junk vehicles on his properties.
“I want all my rentals looking nice and clean. That’s why I’m sticking money into all of them,” he said.
At first, commissioner Gerry Anders said he wanted to see a floor plan of the building to make sure it had enough space for nine tenants, but he eventually settled on requiring Hryndej to follow all state building codes for dwellings, such as having proper egress windows.
When Anders raised concerns about mixing a residential property into a commercial area, city officials noted that housing is likely to become more common in that part of the city.
Since Highway 29 was moved 20 years ago, DPW Craig Stuttgen predicts a lot of that area may transition to residential over time. Grady said the city has gotten an inquiry for residential at the old Reis & Reis accounting office across the street.
The commission recommended approval of the permit with the following conditions: no more than nine tenants living there at once; no more than 12 motorized vehicles kept on site; no junk vehicles; a minimum of two full bathrooms; minimum six-month leases; and all state building codes must be met.
The council will vote on the commission’s recommendation at its meeting tonight (June 17).