Huge housing project gets nod in GarCo

A rare major housing proposal during a time of anemic real estate sales and construction activity won the support of Garfield County commissioners Monday as they tentatively approved a 366-unit development.

The project, River Edge Colorado, is proposed for the same site where previous development proposals have failed to come to fruition, with the property twice ending up in foreclosure. The location also consistently has drawn questions over its appropriateness for a major development because it’s miles from municipalities, being about halfway between Glenwood Springs and Carbondale on Colorado Highway 82.

“It doesn’t fit. It’s out in the middle of nowhere,” one opponent, David Harris, said during Monday’s hearing.

But County Commissioner Tom Jankovsky pointed to a number of other sizable residential developments that already have been built along that stretch of highway.

“I don’t think it’s out of character with what’s going on between Carbondale and Glenwood Springs,” Jankovsky said.

Two developments along that stretch include golf courses. The initial proposal for what’s now the River Edge location, which is in the Cattle Creek area, also would have included one. County commissioners approved that project, known as Sanders Ranch, in 2001. The project was sold, and became known as Bair Chase, but the property ended up being acquired by the lending bank through foreclosure in 2006. Related WestPac then bought it and proposed a 1,006-home project, but lost it in foreclosure during the current slowdown, when Related also was foreclosed on over the Base Village project in Snowmass Village.

The 280 acres in the Bair Chase foreclosure since have been split up, and Carbondale Investments, LLC, is proposing its housing development for 160 of the acres.

County commissioners tentatively approved the project 2-1 Monday, with Jankovsky and Mike Samson supporting it and John Martin opposed. They’ll consider final approval Dec. 5.

Developer Rockwood Shepard told commissioners Monday half the project acreage will be preserved as open space, Also, the project will reduce commuter traffic congestion in Glenwood Springs by creating more housing up-valley of it, where many of those commuters work, he said.

But besides raising concerns about urban sprawl, government officials in Glenwood Springs and Carbondale have questioned the need for the project, given today’s slow housing market.

Shepard said actual construction of housing on the project is years away. Initial work instead will focus partly on restoration of a property left stripped of topsoil and vegetation during initial excavation by prior ownership.


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