Midvalley development The Fields is back with new owner, new plan
Proposal has more open space, more affordable housing, more overall units
The new owner of a midvalley development called The Fields is hopeful his refinements to the residential project will quell public opposition that plagued the previous plan.
Evan Schreiber submitted an application to Eagle County last week that increases the open space from the previous plan by 57% and moves residences away from the property lines to provide neighbors with more breathing room. The new proposal places the single- and multi-family homes in clusters rather than laying them out in a cookie-cutter, suburban-style pattern.
Schreiber is seeking approval for 135 residences, which include 27 single-family homes, 20 duplexes, 19 townhomes and 69 multi-family units. The prior owners received initial approval five years ago for 110 units.
Schreiber is increasing the amount of proposed affordable housing to 34 units or 25% of the total.
He also is decreasing the average size per dwelling to 1,521 square feet from as large as 1,800 square feet in the previous plan. The total estimated residential square footage would be 205,400 square feet.
During a tour of the property Monday with The Aspen Times, Schreiber said his goal was to build a development that would be a nice place to live.
“For me as a developer, I wanted to do something impactful, in a good way,” he said.
There are few opportunities in the Roaring Fork Valley portion of Eagle County for relatively large residential projects to address the housing needs, he noted.
“There’s only a couple of opportunities out there to do something nice,” he said.
Schreiber is founder and owner of Carbondale-based Lightbox Development. He bought the nearly 20-acre Fields property in 2019. The site is located along Valley Road, across Highway 82 from the entrance to Blue Lake Subdivision.
The Fields earned first-round approval, called a sketch plan, from the Eagle County commissioners in 2016. However, the commissioners warned the owners at the time the project would need to provide more community benefits in order to get final approval for a rezoning request.
The plan also was met with extensive public opposition, particularly from Summit Vista subdivision residents to the east and other property owners along Valley Road. Foes said The Fields was too dense and would create too many impacts, such as increased traffic on Valley Road. There is widespread sentiment against adding to the rush hour gridlock on Highway 82.
The prior ownership group sold out rather than worked on refinements to earn second-round approval. Schreiber said he watched videotapes of public comments from the county’s public hearings and reviewed newspaper articles about the review process to get a feel for neighbors’ objections. He reworked the plan with a new development team, heading by land use planner Jon Fredericks of Landwest Colorado. Schreiber said he “took it to heart” to refine the proposal to try to meet the concerns, a point that his application also makes.
“While the previously approved Sketch Plan checked many boxes regarding land use and zoning standards, perhaps the most important box was left unchecked — the creation of a forward thinking and inspiring community in which to live,” the application said.
The revised plan aims to up the ante by clustering a variety of housing types and sizes around shared open spaces. Rather than having the typical two-car garage with manicured lawns, the residences share open spaces that will have more of a natural feel. There will be pedestrian-only trail connections throughout the interior of the development and a connection to the nearby Crown Mountain Park. There also will be a neighborhood kids park, a dog park and a centralized pond. The open space will total 7 acres. All existing trees will be preserved.
Schreiber has agreed to traffic calming features on Valley Road and is contributing funds to Eagle County’s plan to improve the intersection of El Jebel Road and Valley Road. Schreiber also will pay for a right-turn lane onto eastbound Highway 82 from Valley Road.
Lightbox Development has hired a public relations firm to help with outreach to neighbors.
While there would be no price caps on a majority of the units, Schreiber said the average size of 1,500 square feet would keep prices attainable for families and local workers.
If the project is approved, Lightbox Development aims to start construction in 2023 and build out the 135 residences over four years.
The new plan for The Fields will be reviewed by the Roaring Fork Regional Planning Commission, which will make a recommendation to the Eagle County commissioners. The commissioners will take up separate review. No hearing dates have been scheduled yet.
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UPDATE 5:27 p.m. — Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon has reopened in both directions Saturday evening after a safety closure due to a flash flood warning. There were no reported mud/debris slides.