Guest column: 480 Donegan is a model project for Glenwood — vote no on repeal

Barry Rosenberg
R2 Partners

When you build something from the ground up, there are not many chances to get it right. Since 1961 my dad, Marvin, has taken extraordinary care in the planning of every structure he has created, and my brother and I modeled our professional integrity on him when following in his footsteps a few decades ago.

Because we are a family of long-term thinkers and long-term holders, the Diemoz family selected us to work with them on a transformational project for Glenwood Springs.

Before Glenwood Springs City Council approved the annexation of 480 Donegan in November 2021, we worked with the community for over 20 months during nine public meetings and numerous other outreach events to refine and hone the neighborhood until it was distilled down to an optimal plan for this property.

Glenwood’s Planning and Zoning Commission listed 13 critical improvement points for 480 Donegan, all of which were addressed and changed prior to resubmitting the current land-use application. Many residents expressed concern and offered feedback throughout the process, which also provided us with the valuable insight that got us to the plan we are at today that includes more critical safety assurances, fewer units, more open space, and a broader diversification of the neighborhood.

We agree with much of what we’re hearing, including that West Glenwood needs better emergency planning. That is why the 480 Donegan annexation agreement includes a legal requirement that a new evacuation plan is in place before residents can start moving in. The City is leading the coordinated, multi-agency effort for a new emergency strategy, and the successful annexation of 480 Donegan will result in a significant contribution of money, resources and evacuation easement access to ensure its completion.

Glenwood has a rare chance — right now — to originate a new residential neighborhood with first-of-its-kind elements like 100% renewable energy, net-zero landscaping, a contribution of significant water rights that will set a new standard, plus the most deed-restricted affordable housing ever privately developed in the city.

Both the Rosenberg and Diemoz families have made firm commitments to responsible development, business integrity and a “community first” foundational promise on which 480 Donegan has been imagined.

It is in that spirit, for example, that 480 Donegan will include 52 deed-restricted affordable housing units starting at $1,326 per month (one-bedroom), which is priced at 80% of the 2021 Area Median Income of Garfield County and based on the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development standards. The deed-restricted units will be available exclusively for workers who qualify through the City of Glenwood Springs affordable housing program.

Whether the parcel on Donegan becomes a residential neighborhood developed with community input and benefits, or if annexation fails and the already-approved commercial/industrial park is built — and to be clear, there is no third option to “start over” — will transform West Glenwood for years to come.

The key to having a say in what happens to this neighborhood is allowing annexation of the property into the City to move forward the plan can be refined collaboratively. Our doors are always open and we are determined to keep finding and incorporating common ground; there is too much at stake for too many real lives to not do this the right way.

To be clear, 480 Donegan will not solve every one of the city’s challenges, but our mission is to have the final version of this new residential neighborhood address many critical community needs as well as reflect the authentic character and spirit of Glenwood.

In its endorsement for annexing 480 Donegan into the City, the Post Independent editorial board wrote, “We think this is a great opportunity to not just make it easier for a few hundred more people to live closer to where they work, but to also work together and create a better future for not just West Glenwood but the entire community.”

When the May 3 election ballot lands in your mailbox this month, please vote “No” on Issue B so the annexation of 480 Donegan into the City can move proceed, and then, please, come participate in the major site approval plan process so we can find even more common ground while creating a realistic future with actual affordable homes for Glenwood’s (not Aspen’s) essential workers.

Barry Rosenberg is co-founder of R2 Partners.

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