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Apartment complex plan on Mesa seeks big hike in density, height limits

       A vacant 5-acre property on West Fillmore Street - currently zoned for up to 10 houses no more than 30 feet tall - would become a 91-unit apartment complex with a 55-foot building height limit in plans submitted to Colorado Springs Planning.
       The proposal, by the Land Patterns planning firm on behalf of Challenger Homes, is scheduled for consideration by the City Planning Commission at its meeting Thursday, April 20.
       The apartments would be be constructed on the southeast corner of West Fillmore Street and Grand Vista Circle.
       The concept plan calls for three buildings, one of which would be 55 feet tall and the other two 45. Off-street parking
A drawing in the Land Patterns concept-plan submittal for Fillmore Apartments includes the layout of the three buildings, the steep topography on the back side of the 5-acre parcel, and the zoning of neighboring properties. North is up. The plan is for two buildings in front (one facing Grand Vista Circle, the other one facing Fillmore Street) and the third building (in gray) just to the south, along Grand Vista.
Courtesy of Land Patterns and Colorado Springs Planning
would go in behind the buildings. An earlier plan, submitted last year, suggested 84 units in two buildings.
       The development fills a need for rental housing, according to Challenger, with the units to include one to three bedroms.
       The commission will be asked to approve the concept plan and a zone change from Residential (R) - which limits homes to 20,000-square-foot lots - to planned unit development (PUD). Under a PUD, a builder can shape a plan based on unique terrain aspects and development desires.
       In this case, “the applicant points to geologic hazard concerns outlined within the preliminary geologic hazard study that exist along the easterly extent of the site,” states the staff report by Michael Schultz, the city planner assigned to the project. 'This reduces the amount of buildable land on the property and forces the project to be more vertical.”
       The planned site is on a sprawling, rugged Westside plateau known as the Mesa, which chiefly consists of public or private open space and scattered developments of single-family homes and duplexes, one to two stories high.
       But on the opposite side of Grand Vista is the 252-unit Oasis Apartments, a multi-building complex two to three stories in height. And, about a half-mile east on Fillmore is its commercialized intersection with Centennial Boulevard. This includes, at the southeast corner, the VA Clinic, which is 42 feet high with a 58-foot-high “decorative sloped roof over the front atrium,” Schultz notes.
       At the northeast corner of Fillmore and Centennial, Penrose-St. Francis Health Services has proposed a hospital complex with heights up to 165 feet, which is also to be discussed at Planning Commission. (See Westside Pioneer article at this link). Schultz further bolsters his taller-building argument by pointing to a 4.3-acre area, still undeveloped, set back from the southwest corner and zoned 13 years ago to allow a 60-foot height. It's part of a 36-acre parcel which otherwise has a 45-foot height limit.
       The proposed PUD zoning change for Fillmore Apartments would also remove its Hillside Overlay, a legal status that forces developers to be more cautious in dealing with slope issues.
       The zoning on the properties just east and south of the Fillmore Apartments site is also R (20,000-square-foot lots).
       The Fillmore Apartments proposal has drawn the interest of the city-wide Council of Neighbors and Organizations (CONO), led by Mesa-area residents who believe the proposed project density and height would violate the city Comprehensive Plan's call for developments to “fit into the character” of areas they're built in.
       At a public meeting attended by more than 50 people in February, Challenger representatives pledged to consider scaling back, but the plan going to Planning Commission is unchanged from what was described then.
       The Planning Commission meeting will be in City Hall Council Chambers, 107 N. Nevada Ave., starting at 8:30 a.m. The apartment matter is one of several items on the agenda.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 4/13/17; Land: Development Proposals)

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