Entry to Breckenridge: Super Storage
Summit County correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
BRECKENRIDGE, Colo. ” About 60,000 square feet of mini-storage units may soon stand at the “gateway” to Breckenridge, despite repeated negotiations for townhomes.
“I know people are pissed,” said Town Councilmember Eric Mamula. “I’ve gotten plenty of calls. I hate for that to be the entryway to town, too.”
But a dispute between the town and developers Kurt Ave and Kirk Mickelsen over the amount of attainable housing required as part of a proposed townhome development has raised the specter that garage-like storage units will be built instead of timber-and-stone residences.
At issue is that the property ” located across County Road 450 from 7-Eleven on Colorado 9 ” is outside town limits, and the development would need to be annexed into Breckenridge to have access to municipal water needed for a housing development.
The town’s annexation guidelines call for housing developers to include at least 80 percent attainable housing in their plans.
Ave and Mickelsen said that requirement would cut too deeply into sale prices to make a sufficient profit on the roughly four acres for which they paid $2.55 million in 2006.
“Economically it just does not pencil out, period,” Mickelsen said.
The housing plan would have included 26 townhomes; the developers were willing to provide up to 60 percent of the units as reduce-priced attainable housing, he said.
Mamula said the town was willing to negotiate on the 80-percent requirement, but the developers would have had to make up for it in other areas, such as through public benefits.
“The town’s got to make the best business deal it can for the taxpayer.
You can’t just give stuff away because they paid too much for the land,” he said.
Annexation is “sort of a big lever for the town,” Mamula said.
He noted that water is a finite resource, and the need for such services as snowplowing and maintenance also impacts the community.
“Any group that’s ever annexed has to pay some price,” Mamula said, pointing out by way of example that the Breckenridge Highlands development provided the town’s golf course.
Now, the developers plan to break ground in the next couple months on Breckenridge Super Storage, which was approved by the county ” over the town’s reservations ” in 2007.
Both Ave and Mickelsen say the door remains open for further negotiations with the town over housing.
“Time is money, and we’ve been sitting on this thing a couple years now,” Ave said.
The developers already have invested about $30,000 into attorneys, architects and planning for the Entrada at Breckenridge housing development, said Scott Lerner, their real-estate agent.
“We do appreciate the town working with us. The real shame of it is the loss of affordable housing, and that (it’s) the entrance to the town of Breckenridge,” Ave said.
Jennifer Kermode, the executive director of the Summit Combined Housing Authority, said she was unaware of the town’s 80-percent attainable housing requirement for annexations.
“To me that sounds like that would be tough in a lot of situations to meet,” Kermode said.
Although not familiar with the Entrada negotiations, she said that she could see how the developer found the situation unfeasible.
“That’s unfortunate, because I think any time (developments include) any affordable units is a plus for us ” as opposed to mini storage,” Kermode said.
“By the same token, if you’re a developer, it has to make economic sense to do it.”
Breckenridge Town Manager Tim Gagen said town officials last met with the developers more than three months ago and had been waiting to hear back regarding a town suggestion that tap, annexation and building fees could be waived.
“We were real disappointed because they promised they would (get back to us). They never even called us to say they were going to do anything,” he said.
Meanwhile, the developers conducted a feasibility study that showed considerable demand for mini-storage, with capacity of Summit County storage units at more than 90 percent for the past 11 years, Mickelsen said.
The Breckenridge Super Storage advertisement in local phonebooks brings in 16 to 20 calls per day, he added. “We have a long list of reservations.”
The phone number goes to a recording that says the mailbox is full and cannot accept messages, and a website listed doesn’t exist.
Ave said the advertisement was purchased near the end of 2007, with anticipation that units will be available this year.
The website is expected to be online by the time the business opens, he said.
The first phase of units are to be up and running within 90 days from when construction begins.
A pedestrian path and landscaping are included in the approved plans.
Plans for townhomes included additional landscaping.
The townhomes would have been similar to the Place Ridge townhomes on Ridge Street in Breckenridge (which Ave and Mickelsen developed), though they would have been broken up into three- to five-unit buildings, Lerner said.
Next spring, the developers intend to construct two buildings to include 7,500 square feet of commercial space on the 1.38-acre tract bordering Highway 9.
The county has not yet approved that development.
Mickelsen said that he and Ave want to maintain open lines of communication with the town.
“We don’t want to burn any bridges,” he said. “It’s just business.”
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Officials are investigating the source of a loud explosion at Smuggler Mine on Saturday morning.