W/J owners back with new housing plan | AspenTimes.com

W/J owners back with new housing plan

Janet UrquhartAspen Times Staff Writer

Would-be developers of W/J Ranch have submitted new, scaled-back plans to build a combination of free-market and affordable housing outside Woody Creek.A new application, submitted to the Pitkin County planning office late last week, proposes 12 free-market lots and 28 units of deed-restricted worker housing. The affordable-housing component has been reduced considerably from the 141 units in an application that Lowe W/J LLC submitted and then withdrew last year.Lowe’s latest plan for the 203-acre parcel off McLain Flats Road takes into account the feedback it received on its first proposal: “Too dense, too dense, too dense,” said Jim De Francia, president of Lowe Enterprises Community Development.”It’s intended to be a response to what we heard on the first go-round,” he said. “We clearly have cut it back to be responsive. We hope and expect it to be much better received.”W/J has been the focus of various development efforts in the past several years. Former owner John Musick Jr. sought approval for 778 units of affordable housing on the parcel. The county rejected that plan and ultimately downzoned the property.Los Angeles-based Lowe Enterprises Inc. acquired the land from Musick and has since been seeking an acceptable plan to develop the parcel. Lowe is seeking a rezoning as part of its application.With its latest plan, Lowe W/J has pared back the project’s density significantly and has proposed cheaper categories of affordable housing to satisfy the requirements of the Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority. It has also bumped up the amount of land that will be kept as open space.”With this go-round, I hope we’ve struck the right balance,” De Francia said.The developers, represented by Stan Clauson Associates, are proposing on-site wastewater treatment and water systems to serve both the proposed new residences and the existing housing at W/J.The sewage-treatment facility will be sized to serve the existing and proposed homes and “will not provide a basis for some future additional development,” according to the application.Sixty-two deed-restricted homes and nine unbuilt lots currently exist on about 30 adjacent acres at W/J.A traffic analysis submitted with the application estimates the new development will generate about 570 vehicle trips per day, but will not necessitate improvements to McLain Flats Road.For the affordable housing, the new application proposes eight single-family, three- and four-bedroom homes in Category 4, which currently carries a maximum price of $296,200.In addition, 20 townhome/duplex units are proposed, including six Category 2 one-bedroom homes (current maximum price: $84,600); four Category 2 two-bedroom units ($92,800); eight Category 3 three-bedroom units ($185,200); and two Category 4 three-bedroom homes ($271,500).The free-market lots average about three acres; each could contain a caretaker unit with special review, according to the proposal.The free-market homes would be clustered on the upper bench of land at W/J; the affordable homes would be grouped on the lower bench, according to the application.About 161 acres, or 79 percent of the site, would be conserved as dedicated open space or through conservation easements, the application states. Lowe has proposed dedicating 67 acres to the county Open Space and Trails Program, including land on the lower bench and along the Roaring Fork River, which runs in a steep ravine below the property.Lowe’s previous application won endorsement from the housing board on the condition that the developers put some cheaper worker housing in the 141-unit mix. The former plan was weighted with Category 4 and Resident Occupied, or RO, units – the most expensive types of deed-restricted housing.The county P&Z, however, rejected the previous application, and the county staff recommended that it be turned down.Lowe W/J withdrew the conceptual plans last fall, shortly before county commissioners were scheduled to begin their review of the project.At that time, De Francia said the developers would come back with a revised application that he hoped would be “broadly palatable.”Since then, the county has initiated significant revisions to its land-use code that will further restrict development outside the Aspen-metro area. The W/J application, however, will be reviewed under the existing rules if it is deemed complete by the planning office, said Lance Clarke, deputy planning director.

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