Eco Dwelling sparks new hope for south Rifle subdivision
New designs for an ongoing effort to build a subdivision in south Rifle were well-received last week by Rifle City Council and a packed house of residents.
“I think the one thing we have to remember is the alternative to this could be a four-story apartment complex,” Rifle Mayor Ed Green said, speaking in favor of seeing houses in the area. “That’s something we need to consider, as well.”
Eco Dwelling LLC originally set out to build 66 single-family units on a 7.9-acre parcel called Fritzlan Ranch, directly southeast of Walmart. On April 19, however, the city denied Eco Dwelling’s request to have the land annexed, expressing concerns over its size and density, certain design elements and the site plan, its park features, possible traffic issues and more.
But during a May 17 workshop, Eco Dwelling owner Fernando Argiro presented a new site plan that slashes 15 units off the subdivision, while increasing the size of the existing lots, which include parking for two vehicles and 10-by-10-foot storage units.
This new proposal also includes a mixture of two- and three-bedroom units. Its site plan highlights lot sizes, parking spaces, green spaces and interior floor plans.
“What you had before was really vague,” Rifle Council member Chris Bornholdt said. “This actually shows us what you’re thinking.”
“It’s more breathable,” Mayor Pro Tem Brian Condie later added.
Eco Dwelling assembles the units at its modular home production facility just east of Rifle using cold-formed recycled steel. With average home cost at nearly $500,000 in the Rifle area, Eco Dwelling’s building method helps bring down costs significantly.
Argiro said the 900-square-foot two-bedroom units will likely go for $310,000 and will be on a 4,200-square-foot lot. The 1,220-square-foot, three-bedroom units would go for $395,000 and be placed on a 5,500 square-foot lot. The plan is to build 11 three-bedroom units on the site.
“We are very confident on that price,” Argiro said. He later added, “As we control building everything in-house, we can control some price.”
City Attorney Jim Neu said one of the concerns of Eco Dwelling’s original proposal was that the city might be asked to own and maintain the property someday, but with the new plan “this doesn’t look like an option anymore.”
Neu also noted Eco Dwelling’s newest proposal to cut some units falls slightly below the 6,000-foot lot standards for the city’s low-density residential zoning rules, saying “it creates a more Rifle-type neighborhood.” Neu also spoke of Eco Dwelling relocating the subdivision’s park in its site plan.
“I think this makes it definitely more public,” Neu said of the new park location along Megan Avenue. “It will be open to the general public as well, which means for parking on Megan for those users, so that’s good.”
In addition to this proposed project, Eco Dwelling looks to build 17 single-family units on 1.93 acres at West 14th Street Marketplace. The two-bedroom houses — 900 square feet in size — are to be placed on 3,000 square-foot lots
Neu said Eco Dwelling’s proposal will now go before the city’s planning and zoning commission in late June, with another annexation vote coming from city council July 19.
Last week’s meeting included several comments — many of which were in favor of Eco Dwelling’s proposal to build in south Rifle, which is walking distance to Grand River Health hospital as well as many restaurants and retail businesses.
Some of the comments were:
Vickie (Fritzland) Zang
“I absolutely tell you that we have nurses and doctors that have no place to live. Right next to the hospital would be wonderful,” she said, adding that she grew up a Fritzlan but that it’s not as important as housing. “It’s an honor to my family to name the streets and all that but that’s not what it’s about. What it’s about, is the hospital needs help. The school district needs help, and I implore you to just help them.”
Sally Brands, longtime home builder
“To be honest with you, I think they’ve made a mistake. I think they need to go back to the (66) units,” Brand said, adding the new proposal is not enough to make a full yard. “It’s more important to get that price down below ($350,000).”
Trish O’Grady, Rifle resident
“I’m not completely opposed to this. I do like the idea of smaller density, but I am concerned about the increased traffic, that this just leads into the next project, which is 16th Street, which I’m definitely against that entire project,” she said.
Seth Meyers, Eco Dwelling employee
“Currently, we do not need an answer to the housing crisis. We needed it a long time ago,” he said.
Cheryl Chandler, local real estate broker
“Don’t tell me we don’t have expensive houses, because we do. We need this project desperately,” she said. “We’ve got more teachers, we’ve got more nurses, more doctors that have nowhere to live. We just don’t have housing.
“If we just want to give up those services, that’s fine, we’ll just keep going up in price. But we need to do something. It’s way too late.”
Janessa McClain, Garfield County local
“I just had a daughter, and this project right now is a dream for me,” she said. “Me and my husband, we work so hard. We are living with my mom right now, we can’t afford anything right now. So this project right now is probably our only hope.”
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