El Jebel developer hopes third time’s a charm
EL JEBEL ” Ace Lane hopes the third time is a charm in his quest to develop a large residential and commercial project on his land in the heart of the midvalley.
Lane wants to build 249 residences and 94,575 square feet of commercial space on his property at the Kodiak water ski lake in El Jebel, across from Willits Town Center. The proposal is bigger than one that was rejected by Eagle County officials just two years ago and substantially larger than what Lane had approval to build in 2000.
Lane’s vision for the property has evolved over the last eight years. He received initial approval in 2000 to build 80,000 square feet of commercial space, a 50- to 60-room hotel and 27 residences. The approval lapsed before Lane built the project.
Two years ago, the Roaring Fork Regional Planning Commission and Eagle County planning staff recommended denial of Lane’s reworked proposal to build 245 residences and 93,000 square feet of commercial space. He withdrew the project before the county commissioners voted.
Lane is now going back before the county for a third review with what he claims is his best plan. This proposal, called the Tree Farm, features clustering of residences, energy-conscious design of buildings, transit- and pedestrian-orientation and possibly the largest privately-owned solar farm in Colorado.
Lane said his design team listened to the criticism of his last proposal and created an improved project. Midvalley critics panned the project last time for generating too much traffic.
“We’re trying to bring the traffic down immensely,” he said.
The new project features a more compact design than the 2006 version. The 30 single-family homes in the original plan have been eliminated. The new development confines residences to about two-thirds of the acreage proposed before. The project is on 71 acres, but about half of it will remain open space.
The unit mix includes 38 residences in duplexes, 36 residences in three-plexes and 56 residences in four-plexes.
The new proposal also places more of the residences between Highway 82 and the ski lake. The old plan spread them out farther to the north of the lake. The lakeside neighborhood will include two “live/work” areas that provide workshops for artisans and craftsmen on the ground floor of buildings and residences on upper stories. Two commercial areas will also be located between the highway and ski lake. There will be on-street parking, a large surface lot and a 225-space garage.
All of the residences will be within one-quarter mile of a transit center, according to Lane’s land-use planner, Jon Fredericks, director of planning at Noble Design Studio.
The proposal also conforms to tougher affordable housing requirements enacted by Eagle County last year. Fredericks said 108 of the 249 residences, or 43 percent, will be affordable housing. That includes 84 units with price restrictions and income limits for buyers and another 24 units without price restrictions but a requirement that buyers be year-round residents.
“This is really geared toward locals,” Fredericks said.
Lane said he cannot guarantee the free-market residences will stay out of the hands of second-home owners. However, the compact nature of the development and the pedestrian orientation will encourage people to be active residents of the community and be involved with neighbors ” something that may not appeal to second-home owners, Lane said.
The project will likely face heavy scrutiny again over traffic generation, so Lane’s team is working with the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority for a major bus stop on his property. Another transit stop will be located on the south side of Highway 82 at Willits Town Center. Lane and the Willits developer will contribute a significant amount of the funds necessary to build a pedestrian underpass beneath Highway 82.
The challenge for his team will be to convince officials and the public that all those transit- and pedestrian-oriented features will successfully reduce traffic.
The project is scheduled for review by the Roaring Fork Regional Planning Commission on Dec. 4 in El Jebel.
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