Auburn Considering Building Height Changes in Downtown

The argument’s been going on for years. Should Auburn keep a tight cap on the height of downtown buildings? How tall should Auburn buildings be?

It’s been a hot button since 2006.

“This has been the case with all three downtown efforts we’ve undertaken, height has been the biggest issue and biggest source of contention. The building height issue it’s been consistent over the past and people feel very strongly about building height in downtown Auburn,”said Forrest Cotten, City of Auburn Director of Planning.

The Downtown Master Plan, so far, keeps “The College Edge Overlay District,” which is primarily the area throughout the core of downtown Auburn, at a 65-foot max. But, some want that raised to 75-feet.

Ten extra feet would give developers more flexibility, for mixed use spaces, instead of just residences, above the first floor.

“I think it’s good for the growth of Auburn. There’s more people here and I believe there needs to be more stuff here to sustain all the people. It’s a small area and cute as it is. But, it’s going to be a bigger city and needs to grow with the people.”

Some folks say growth’s fine, but not at the expense of downtown charm.

“I think one of the best things about Auburn is it’s a small town and feels like a small town and I think adding a lot of tall buildings would be making it something that it’s not, which is a big urban city and I think keeping the buildings smaller will make it like what we think of Auburn when we think of the town,” said Carter Spence.

“I think for one, they see the Parker Building and its a monstrosity. It’s not keeping up with the character of downtown and then they see the Evolve building and that’s 75 feet and that’s what they are looking like going to downtown and people don’t want to see that in the heart of downtown,” said Bruno Ulrich.

You can have your say about building heights at the next Auburn City Council meeting on March 20.

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