Colorado Avenue Townhomes
High Density Private Home Development on the Westside
Modern, 30 box-units, 3 story townhomes with a height of 42.8 feet on .688 acres
Update: as of Sunday, February 18th, 2024
The city received many letters around this proposal.
The majority were against the development proposal, protesting the housing density, large
building scale, and lack of integration with historic architecture as well as effects to the local
Many of those in favor of the proposed 30 unit development mistakenly assume these “Multi
Family” homes will be affordable, entry or middle income, housing. Please reach out to your
neighbors and discuss that these are not affordable or middle income housing.
The development is for slot-home style luxury townhomes with rooftop patios. These homes
would probably sell for $350-$500K ie. not entry level homes, with current rates $3000+
mortgage payment is not affordable housing.
The various city departments are now on point, and many of their comments are encouraging
towards slightly reducing the density of this development from the proposal. Following are changes that must be made:
Stormwater engineering is required on the site.
Trees are required on the site.
Retaining existing mature trees in the right of way is encouraged.
Activity greenspace is required – rock filled plant beds don't count with the city.
Bike parking is required.
ADA routes and parking are required.
Acknowledgement that guests and some residents will use street parking.
Inquiry on garage door size.
Utility service runs require certain minimum space.
Setbacks, buffers, fences, screens and other perimeter landscapes are required.
Measurement of setbacks on all sides, and space between buildings should be listed on the site plan.
Area measurements of building, hardscape, and greenspace must be listed and must total100% of the site. – the area didn’t add up on the proposal.
Site plan must show correct street names, and identify the neighboring properties. -it was unclear which block the proposal was on.
That the site be secured from vagrancy during all phases of development.
Note: The development’s size creates a park land obligation that is met by paying a fee. There are parks within 1⁄2 mile. A separate requirement of UDC is the 10% internal activity greenspace required on a Multifamily development; this is still required by the code. Those parks are not close enough to remove the required activity space.
Action still needs to be taken to protect OCC’s historical architecture, neighborhood characteristics, beautiful views, ecological preservation, and for evacuation models. The city does have a Historical Overlay designation, but, bizarrely, Old Colorado City is not one. Only the affluent Old North End has a historic overlay to protect the develoment in that area. One of the wealthiest developers in the city lives in that area. That said, the Westside Plan DOES have standards to protect the historic nature of the area.
Call to Action: talk to your neighbors about this not being affordable housing, as many mistake it for and about how it could affect the historic neighborhood. Westside Watch will be sending updates as we get them. Sign up for their newsletters or follow them on Facebook or X to stay informed.
City Planner Needs Your Comments By Monday, February, 12th, 2024
Though we encourage everyone to write their own email, if you are pinched for time, we have a sample email you can quickly copy/paste and send. Our leadership is more moved by number of emails than logic and reason, sadly. So, the more the better. A concerned westside citizen who has spent precious free time doing the legwork has summarized concerns in more depth which you will find below the sample email. Please do copy the press and us. It matters. They want and need to see it. In order to provide this and so many other services including legal support, we rely on the generosity of Colorado Springs neighbors. Please give. Thank you for being a great neighbor.
Subject: Colorado Avenue Townhomes Changes the Character of Old Colorado City
Dear Mr. Tefertiller, City Council and Mayor Mobolade,
I object to the Colorado Avenue Townhomes proposed by Denver developer, Moonstar, for the following reasons:
The westside is already overbuilt with evacuation times exceeding 8 hours and plans to add 20,000 cars/day to Highway 24 with the Gold Hill Mesa Commercial/Residential "Mini-downtown". You are trapping us. Fix our road infrastructure first.
The overall scale of the combined six buildings inconsistent with the historic, existing buildings that define the Old Colorado City District.
They are introducing high-density housing into Old Colorado City that is twice as dense as the City's threshold for high-density at 35 units/acre well beyond City code. It's irrational density.
They are slot-homes designed for modern, large cities that change the historic nature of Old Colorado City as outlined in the Westside Plan that requires low and medium density housing.
Historic mature trees will have to be removed, and the proposal calls for no new trees even though it is required by city code.
The proposed design is bad for the Fountain Creek ecosystem.
There are low clearance doors that will not fit full size vehicles. There is not additional parking on site.
City code mandates 10% of the land be greenway space for walking dogs, sports, picnics, etc. 10% would be 3,900 feet. The proposal claims 10% active greenway, but the area show for activity is actually plant beds that measure less than of the 5% of the land. There is no green activity space provided.
Water quality tests are being skirted and are required by code.
Reviewing the plans showed Townhomes of the style that exploded in West Denver Neighborhoods over the last decade, and have been blamed for damaging the character of the neighborhoods. The proposal is not good for the Westside. Please respect the Master Plan of the Westside and historic nature of Old Colorado City and enforce our code to bring a "mixed-use" development that will benefit not harm our historic neighborhood,
Projects in “Mixed Use” zoning are intended to provide benefits to the neighborhood.
For OCC businesses, bringing more residents is a benefit, but are there any benefits to the residents in the neighborhood?
Concerns from a Westside Neighbor:
The buildings are what’s known as slot-homes each block of townhomes is perpendicular to the street with front doors facing across an alley to the next building's front door. The next alley is a little wider and provides a common drive to access each unit's garage.
Don’t be confused when looking at the Architectural drawings of the sides of the building. the long side of the building with the varied roof elevations is not facing Colorado Avenue. The long side, that’s the best looking side, is perpendicular to Colorado Ave and faces an identical building just 10’ away.
From the street, the view is 6 building ends separated by 7 to 10’ corridors.
Looking at similar projects from Denver developers on Tennyson St , around Sloan's Lake.
Too dense for Old Colorado City: 6 3-story buildings with 30 townhouse units is too many on this small lot. This design of homes are intended for an urban area. where they are surrounded by taller buildings.
Where else on the westside is this housing density, private multi-family homes at 34 homes per acre?
Only 9 per acre is typical for most of the area’s townhomes. The westside does not have private, high density housing that is defined by the city as 15+/acre.
Yep, the buildings seem too close together, separated only by architectural “slot canyons” 8’ to 10’ wide and 30’+ high. These alleys between the buildings run perpendicular to Colorado Ave from the narrow “street fronts” of the buildings to the actual city-block alley.
Other than the garages, on site parking for guests, owners’ full-size vehicles, and for their road-iced cars that would otherwise mess up a garage. Denver streets around these types of units are full of owners that don’t park in the small garage or have more cars than the allotted spaces. The proposal doesn’t provide any space outside of the garage. There is no stub driveway in front of each garage to park on when it snows.
Garage doors should have a full 8’ headroom clearance– owners with taller 4x4 SUV roof racks, and oversize tires can park inside.t. (that’s a demographic for these homes in Denver)
Observation around similar slot homes in Denver: residents will often park on the street, reducing parking for businesses. Business patrons park on residential streets. Parking becomes an issue for existing residents that rely on front of house street parking. MoonStar has already planned a commercial parking garage behind the historic building on the same block, but do they acknowledge that the townhomes create parking concerns?
There is no “Activity Greenway” on the proposal. The code requires 10% of the lot for recreation commons. Those green colored blocks on the plan are xeriscaped flower beds.
The plan does not show keeping the two healthy 100+ year old trees that are in the right of way.
The plan proposes NO TREES on the entire development even though they are required by code in both the setback and the interior landscape.
Adjustments could be made to keep some of the existing mature trees in the interior of the lot.
Observe the Natural Air Conditioning that occurs in the microclimate west of the 26th St Butte. Almost every day through the summer winds from the west form a cloud of moisture at the top of Pikes Peak, it grows extending east over the ridge behind Manitou Springs and Section 16. Some days it breaks off as a thunderstorm to Fountain or downtown, but most days it hangs there offering cool damp winds to the valley. This wind coming off red rocks park gathers more cool moisture from N. Fountain Creek and offers cool summer nights to OCC. Many in OCC don’t have AC, but cool off their home with open windows at night.
The dark material colors (black shingles, gunmetal blue paint on cement board, dark brick) will store and release a lot of heat. This heat will increase cooling costs for residents. The heat radiating from the building will combine with the waste heat from buildings 30 AC units and soak into the neighborhood.
Concrete would reflect more light and hold less heat than asphalt. Asphalt has a flywheel effect and releases heat long into the night. This could force residents to rely on AC when that is not usually the case in this microclimate.
Large buildings with heavy paving create an urban heat island with temperatures +5 degrees in the day, but as much as +22 degrees at night. With the heat coming off asphalt at night surfaces don’t fully cool at night and get hotter each day during summer. Concrete paving is better than asphalt at reflecting heat, and not holding it into the night. Permeable pavers, and ground cover that retains moisture is beneficial not only for holding stormwater, but also provides evaporative cooling for hours or days after rain stops.
Rising air in the slot canyons created by the homes would be accelerated by heat from dark wall, roof materials, and paving. The dramatic air movement generated by a narrow canyon tends to dry out the soil – not good for landscape plants.
These homes are typically ~600sq ft footprint with garage, utility, toilet on the ground floor. Next floor is Kitchen and living area, two bedrooms and a full bath on the third. There’s a lot of stairs.
Heat Rises. With 1 thermostat and central air bedrooms on the 3rd floor tend to be too warm. Radiant flooring on the living room area could make this style home more comfortable.
Swamp Coolers are useful in the area, in tall buildings a roof exhaust fan can be used to pull the day’s heat out of the building before the swap cooler comes on.
The south “B” unit on each building has a substantial south facing wall with no roof overhang. That wall will transfer a lot of solar heat. Could thicker insulation, or some roof overhang, or shade tree provide relief.
Some points on the negative effects on the neighborhood and ways that this proposal is far beyond any existing development on the west side.
Overflow into neighborhood parking. Proposal does not have any parking lot, or individual driveways. The Garage door is the edge of each property and the only other place to park is on the street.
There’s an assumption in code that a 2 bedroom unit needs 1.5 parking spaces. That likely holds for apartment rentals, but these appear to be luxury townhomes with a different owner demographic.
Street parking around slot-townhomes in denver is full of residents full size 4x4 SUVs with rack and gear on top. They are unable to park inside due to the low headroom garage doors.
12 of the proposed units have only a single garage unit. The others have 2-car garages. No additional onsite parking is provided.
Neighborhood $Gentrification - Slot homes which face each other and not the street were invented to maximize profit on a building development. The homes are as densely packed as apartments or condos but feature a platted lot footprint so the owner has land equity. Existing townhomes on the Westside (examples) units /ac. the proposed density is for 35 units/acre.
Proposed 3-story townhomes comp around $500K . At 30 units the proposal would put $15M value on the 1/3 block it covers. Can you imagine how much pressure $45 Million per block potential will put on building owners to sell out to developers. In Denver this type of project was usually followed by many more in the same neighborhood.
What’s to stop more of these units from being built in OCC?
The increase in property value could affect residential neighbors as well resulting in higher taxes.
An Individual buying and flipping a home is another form of gentrification. Yet this type of development is typically spread out in a neighborhood, consisting of superficial changes, and causes only marginal increase in value.
There's some architectural and landscape defects that either won't work well or don't fit with the aesthetic of OCC or N fountain Creek micro climate..
There also seem to be a few faults in the plans / process that don't follow city codes
For a Multifamily development city code requires 10% of the lot, 3900 sqft, be common space “activity greenway” for sports, walking, dog walking, picnic, etc
What's marked as "Activity Greenway" is listed as 10% on the plans but measures less than 5% of the lot.
These are plant beds - narrow strips 5' and 8' wide strips against building walls are merely plant beds filled with large gravel, cobblestones, and shrubs - There is no actual activity greenway on the plans.
The landscape code requires 13 trees in the front setback/right of way. and 11 trees in the interior landscape. The proposed landscape plan has no trees on the site. code allows replacing some of the trees with shrubs/grass but only a minority of them.
The city code encourages keeping mature trees on a site, and counts them as multiple trees based on size. Keeping the two 100+ y.o. trees in the right of way near the historic building, and keeping two or three of the existing trees on the site would likely satisfy the tree requirement.
The Landscape Plan plants Full-Sun plants in Full-Shade areas on the north exterior, and in the narrow 8’ wide “canyon” between 30’ high building walls
It appears, the preliminary meeting notes from the city explain to the developer that the desired project of “Commercial Parking, Apartments, and Townhomes” which exceeds 1 ac would require a WQ [“water quality”? ] survey. The meeting then explained to the developer that separating the projects to <1 ac each would eliminate the need for WQ analysis. This site should not be skirting any water quality analysis as it is directly above fountain creek. Stormwater that overflows the site’s system is only 400’ uphill from the creek..
The preliminary also states the city would need to pave the alley (currently dirt). the additional work of paving the alley might be considered with the .866 townhome plan and force the 1ac+ WQ survey for the
One well done item is the porch light fixtures are well selected. They direct light down, are a warm 3K spectrum, have accurate color rendering, and are recommended for not polluting dark starry skies with glare. But that should have just been the extra credits points on a project that serves the nieghborhood.
There seems to be a lot of nonsense in this proposal and very little consideration for the neighborhood or building a home that is appropriate and takes advantage of the local microclimate.
Most of us Westsiders are ready for an improvement to this lot. There needs to be an attempt to provide something that adds value for neighbors.
Having moved from Denver neighborhoods that got ruined with this type of development, I do not want to see the same type of developments ruin the neighborhood here, which I love because of the way it already is.