979 homes eyed for former Bair Chase | AspenTimes.com

979 homes eyed for former Bair Chase

Dennis Webb
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado

Rocky Shepard, project manager for Related WestPac, looks over a map of the future Cattle Creek Crossing development south of Glenwood Springs with public relations agent Jeanette Darnauer in the background. (Kelley Cox/Post Independent)

GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” Developers hope to build nearly 1,000 homes on the former Bair Chase property between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale.

While that’s a lot of houses, it’s less than zoning allows for the 282-acre parcel and will help address the area’s housing shortage, said

Rocky Shepard, project manager for Related WestPac, the property’s new owner.

Related WestPac expects to submit its plans to Garfield County in November. The proposal, to be called Cattle Creek Crossing, entails 979 housing units.

Sanders Ranch, a previous proposal for the property, had called for 500 homes, 700,000 square feet of commercial development and a golf course. More recently, as Bair Chase, it was to have been a golf course community consisting of 230 homes.

The property ended up being bought by the lending bank in foreclosure before WestPac Investments LLC and Related Cos. teamed up to buy it for $18.5 million. The companies also have taken over the Base Village project at Snowmass Ski Area.

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The new Cattle Creek project’s density arises out of action by Garfield County commissioners earlier this year. They terminated the Bair Chase planned unit development plan and rezoned it to higher density, a move that generated some criticism but was done to make the property conform to the county’s comprehensive land use plan. Shepard said the new proposal consists of about 40 percent fewer units than are allowed under the zoning.

Martha Cochran, executive director of the Aspen Valley Land Trust, which seeks to protect land from development, called the Related WestPac proposal “a very, very, very dense project. It basically fills up all the land.”

The property includes a pre-existing 54-acre conservation easement, but Cochran said she was disappointed at the lack of additional open space in the plan.

“The elk need to go somewhere, and there’s no place for them to go there,” she said.

But developers say about a third of the property will be open space. That’s up from about a fifth of the land, counting only the conservation easement. Additional open space will come from components such as parks, trails, and a widened wildlife corridor buffer zone beyond the one already provided for by the easement along Cattle Creek leading to the Roaring Fork River. Developers hope to restore habitat along the creek.

They are planning about 30 percent multifamily units, 33 percent single-family homes, 20 percent townhomes, and the rest a mix of lofts, duplexes, river cottages and live/work residences.

Ten percent of the single-family homes would be deed-restricted affordable housing units, although Shepard said none are required under county regulations because no increase in housing density is being requested. He said that altogether, Related, based in New York, has a lot of experience with affordable housing, having built some 300,000 units.

Related WestPac plans to pursue LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environment Design) certification for its homes, meet Building America standards to cut energy use in half, and construct a Zero-Energy neighborhood that uses solar and other means to have the homes produce as much power as they consume. Developers also intend to install a miniature hydroelectric system on an irrigation ditch running through the property.

They also are planning to build a barn on the property, following the outcry over the demolition of a landmark barn there under previous ownership.

“We thought, what the heck, we’re trying to rebuild the whole area. We might as well rebuild the barn,” Shepard said.

He said they also have spent about $80,000 on silt fencing, weed management and other activities to address the problems left behind after the property had been subject to extensive earthmoving before the Bair Chase work came to a stop. In addition, they have paid off contractors with pre-existing liens on the property and others who had unpaid bills, Shepard said.

Related WestPac plans to donate 14 acres to the Roaring Fork School District Re-1, and build athletic fields, parking and restrooms that would be available to the schools and public along what will be a bike path on the former railroad corridor. Shepard said the project’s contribution to the district would be worth $15 million to $20 million, compared to $600,000 to $800,000 it would be required to give in school impact fees.

Developers are planning about 15,000 square feet of commercial space for uses such as a convenience store and restaurant. They plan to build a fitness and day-care center and set aside land for a fire station.

The project will require installation of a stoplight at Highway 82 and Cattle Creek.

Cochran said with housing being such an issue, it will be interesting to see whether people will support building such a large project.

“I would describe it as a new town. … This is clearly of that scale,” she said.