Is it a street or a driveway? |

Is it a street or a driveway?

GLENWOOD SPRINGS, Colorado – A request that the city government, rather than the developer, own and maintain an access road for a proposed 60-unit affordable rental housing project at Glenwood Meadows proved to be a sticking point, as city council took up consideration of the proposal Thursday.

A majority of council was leaning toward eventual approval of the low-income tax credit project being proposed by Steele Properties of Denver. But the road issue and other details still need to be worked out.

“I’m 98 percent there,” Councilman Todd Leahy said.

“But, it would be to your guys’ demise if this is not done right,” he advised the development team. “We need to make sure our staff can go along with it.”

Council continued its review of the so-called Glenwood Green Apartments until next month. In the meantime, the developer is to work with city planning staff to hash out the road question and some other remaining issues.

The developer has asked that the road leading from Wulfsohn Road into the apartment complex, once built, be designated as a public street and maintained by the city.

Eventually, the road is to be one of three primary access points into the larger residential neighborhood at the Meadows.

Glenwood Springs Public Works Director Robin Millyard recommended against the city taking on the road, at least for now.

“The street improvements associated with this proposed development serve as a driveway,” he wrote in a memo to city planning staff. “It is impossible to predict if future development would allow for the extension [of the road].”

Glenwood Green would represent the first housing units at the larger Glenwood Meadows mixed-use development in West Glenwood, where Target, Lowe’s and several other large retailers are located.

The original 2005 Meadows approval allowed for up to 475 residential units to be built on the hillside south of Wulfsohn Road. Of those, 300 can be rental apartments.

Glenwood Meadows LLC is under contract to sell 3.5 acres, out of the 17 acres set aside for residential development, to Steele Properties.

Steele, which also manages the Manor I and II low-income senior housing apartments in Glenwood Springs, specializes in tax-credit affordable housing development. Last spring, it obtained approval from the Colorado Housing Finance Authority for $11 million in tax credits to apply to the Glenwood Green project.

One-, two- and three-bedroom apartments in the project are to be made available to qualifying applicants earning between 40 and 60 percent of the area median income.

Currently, that translates to an individual earning about $15,000 per year, or a four-person household earning up to $43,000, said Jennifer Cloud, community relations associate for Steele Properties, at the Thursday meeting with city council.

“This will be a $14 million development that we will be bringing to Glenwood Springs, and one that will stimulate the economy and create construction jobs,” she said.

“There’s not a lot of flexibility in our budget to work with,” Cloud said. Future road maintenance is one thing the developer can’t take on, she said.

“If we don’t receive public dedication for the road, we simply can’t move forward,” she said.

Of concern to city officials, though, is that the road be built to the standards necessary to serve as a primary access road beyond the Glenwood Green project.

“Our job is to ensure that this road isn’t overburdened, and that the city doesn’t have to come back and [rebuild it],” Mayor Matt Steckler said.

“I don’t want for us to basically be paying to maintain a driveway,” he said.

Cost and limited space on Steele’s small section of the larger development site also mean a one-acre park will have to wait.

The Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission, in recommending approval of the project, rejected a variance request on the park requirement.

Council is seeking some assurance from Glenwood Meadows developer Robert Macgregor that the park will be built in the next phase of residential development.

Macgregor said Steele’s plan represents the most “earnest attempt” to date to build housing at Glenwood Meadows.

“I’ve been told repeatedly by the city, ‘bring us housing,'” Macgregor said. “I’m extremely proud that I’ve found one of the few groups that can actually proceed with some development.”

Steele remains under a tight timeline to start work on the project and retain the tax credits. The developer is required to have expended 10 percent of its budget, or roughly $1.5 million, by May.

“Our job is to get going so we can start writing checks,” said Steele’s Chad Asarch during the Thursday city council meeting.

In other business at the Jan. 19 meeting, council:

• Unanimously approved separate resolutions, one to set up a financial planning task force for the envisioned new performing arts and events center, and the other designating the community center grounds as the preferred site for the estimated $24 million project.

Applications are to be accepted for task force members, who will be charged with seeking out possible private and public sources to help finance the project.

• Heard a report from Glenwood Springs whitewater park committee chairman Joe Mollica, who advised that $35,000 remains in the fundraising kitty for future park improvements.

He suggested the city use the funds to leverage possible grants to build an eddy feature and other safety improvements at the park. The project is estimated to cost around $200,000, Mollica said.

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