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Blue Creek Ranch to be developed

Another ranch has been sold and is planned for development in a section of the midvalley that’s evolved into a hotbed of residential growth this year.

Eighty acres of Blue Creek Ranch were sold Sept. 28 for $4,312,500, according to public records. William and Jayne Gilligan sold the property – mostly undeveloped pasture land – to Blue Creek Land Holdings LLC.

Ace Lane and Rob Cumming – partners in Blue Creek Land – have submitted a development plan to Garfield County that features 20 free-market lots, 20 clustered cottages, a tree farm and preservation of open space along the Roaring Fork River, according to their land use planner, Glenn Horn.

Blue Creek Ranch is located on the southwest corner of the intersection of Catherine Road and State Highway 82, about 4 miles east of Carbondale. Two other high-exposure properties across Catherine Road are already in the process of being developed.

High value per acre

The first of 47 home lots are being developed this fall at Aspen Equestrian Estates, the ranch formerly known as Preshana.

St. Finnbar Farm, tucked in the woods along Blue Creek on the west side of Catherine Road, was subdivided into 13 luxury lots that start at $395,000.

In addition, the Cerise Ranch on the north side of Highway 82 and slightly upvalley from Blue Creek Ranch has been carved into lots that are being sold at prices starting at $155,000.

Brian Hazen was the listing broker for Blue Creek Ranch. Real estate industry observers said the sale might have been one of the highest in the midvalley for price per acre.

Blue Creek Ranch sold for about $53,900 per acre. The larger Sanders Ranch, about 280 acres eight miles further downvalley, was purchased in August 1998 by George Hanlon for $6.87 million, or about $24,535 per acre.

The Preshana sales involved 58 acres for $3.75 million, or about $64,600 per acre. However, that property came with an approval for 47 house lots and an existing equestrian center.

Both Blue Creek Ranch and Sanders Ranch were purchased without development approvals in place.

Riverside conservation

Blue Creek’s development plan is somewhere in between the cookie-cutter approach of Aspen Equestrian Estates and the luxury offerings at St. Finnbar.

Horn said 20 free-market home lots will be sold on the southerly end of Blue Creek Ranch, near the river. The lot sizes will average about one acre. Home sizes aren’t specified in the application.

A conservation easement will be placed on another 20 acres of property closest to the river, according to Horn. And the home lots will be carefully located to preserve a large stand of cottonwood trees, he said.

A park and public boat launch into the Roaring Fork River will be created just south of Catherine Bridge. A fishing easement will be granted along the length of the river.

Lane will expand his tree nursery business, which is located in El Jebel, to 18 1/2 acres fronting Highway 82 and Catherine Road, Horn said.

About 8,000 square feet of land will be donated to the Colorado Department of Transportation for expansion of a park-and-ride.

Affordable housing included

The final piece of the development puzzle is construction of 20 “community cottages” that will range from 800 to 2,000 square feet. The plan is to cluster two groups of 10 cottages each around a courtyard.

Vehicles will be parked slightly off site, and front porches will be oriented toward the courtyards to promote interaction among neighbors.

Among the cottages, 12 will be free-market units and eight will be deed-restricted affordable housing, said Horn.

An existing ranch house will be preserved on the property.

Lane and Cumming submitted their application to Garfield County before a deadline that would have potentially subjected it to Amendment 24. If approved, that slow-growth initiative, which will be decided by statewide voters on Nov. 7, will delay review of future applications until counties comply with land-use planning standards.

But the Blue Creek Ranch plan is one of over two dozen that flooded Garfield County before the deadline. Horn said he was warned by the county planners not to expect the application to be reviewed for several months.

“They said it would be 30 to 60 days before they would even look at this,” he said.


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