Monday, October 21, 2019

Gates open to a new plan for 156 units at Brush Creek

Hopes move will influence county to grant extension request on August 6

by Mark Reaman

A scaled-down version of the Corner at Brush Creek that comes closer to meeting the three requirements imposed by the towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte on the project is being floated by developer Gary Gates.

His new plan trims the number of units proposed to the 156 that the towns asked to leave but instead of setting aside five acres for possible future intercept parking, he is asking for two, and instead of having two parking spaces per unit, Gates is suggesting 1.5.

He shared the new proposal with the Crested Butte News on July 29, about a week before the Gunnison County commissioners will on August 6 consider his request to extend by one year the deadline for applying for preliminary plan review.

Gates said the revision to a smaller project is now possible because he has been awarded a 76-unit affordable housing project in Gunnison near the recreation center that he plans to start in September and have completed next spring. That would provide a total of 232 units between the two projects.

The efficiencies garnered by coordinating the two construction projects, he said, would make the new Brush Creek proposal possible.

In a letter addressed to the town councils, the county commissioners and the community at large (see page 3), Gates listed those efficiencies to include the fact that the properties could use the same architectural plans; the same work crews could be used to build both properties; the same management staff could easily manage both properties; and construction and operating supplies would be identical at both properties, creating an economy of scale to save on costs.

Responding to questions from the News, Gates emailed that despite the two construction projects not taking place at the same time, “With the Gunnison project done, we will then have a team already in place and have the experience with a process of how to use local construction with our construction crew. … It will be much cheaper to accommodate my out-of-town crew for Brush Creek if I use a few units in the Gunnison project to house them during the construction. I’m also already exploring some other workforce housing opportunities that I might do right after the 76 units in Rock Creek [are] finished. I’m exploring doing another 40 units in Gunnison that would start after I finish the current 76 units. That would finish about the time where I could then start on Brush Creek.”

Dealing with the upper valley

A year ago the Gunnison County Planning Commission approved the Gatesco sketch plan with more than 40 conditions and a top limit of 180 units. One of the conditions was a requirement that three of the four property owners—the towns of Crested Butte and Mt. Crested Butte, Gunnison County and Crested Butte Mountain Resort—agree to the submittal of a preliminary plan application. That is where the three additional requirements from the two towns come into play.

Responding directly to those three mandates, Gates said the revised site plan locates the 156 units predominately on the flatter sections of the 14.3-acre property and that will help keep construction costs down. The elimination of features such as underground parking and a transit center “plus the economies of scale from the Gunnison project and other modifications support the feasibility of a 156-unit project,” Gates said.

As for reducing the number of parking spaces per unit from two to 1.5, Gates’ letter states, “Such a ratio is more consistent with the municipal codes throughout the Gunnison Valley, and more commensurate with the number of studio and one-bedroom units included in this project.”

Gates’ revised plan has 24 efficiency apartments; 50 one-bedroom, one-bath apartments; 40 two-bedroom, one-bath units; 10 two-bedroom, two-bath units; and 32 three-bedroom, two-bath apartments.

The development would cater to people making less than 180 percent of AMI (Area Median Income). Of the 156 units, 65 percent of the units would be deed restricted for people making less than 180 percent AMI; 50 percent of those will go to people making under 120 percent AMI. Gates said the rental rates would still be capped at 30 percent of income and would include utilities.

Gates’ letter also asks that the company be allowed “to request necessary adjustments to the 41 current conditions to ensure economic viability, primarily by adjusting the ratio of larger units to smaller units.”

According to Gates, the two-acre set-aside in property for future uses should be enough to handle approximately 200 parking spaces in an intercept lot.

The letter to the elected officials and community also addresses the water and sewer issues that have been brought up recently and the exclusion of a formal transit center that was part of the original proposal.

When asked for a comment on the revisions, both Crested Butte mayor Jim Schmidt and Mt. Crested Butte mayor Janet Farmer said Tuesday evening that they had not yet received the Gatesco letter. Gates said his team planned to send the letter to the elected official the morning of Wednesday, July 31. Farmer plans to attend the commissioner meeting on August 6.

“If the county grants the extension on August 6, then as soon as either town is able, Gatesco would like to schedule a workshop meeting with each town to discuss these proposed solutions,” Gates’ letter to the towns states. He hopes an agreement can be reached between Gatesco and at least one of the towns through such negotiations.

A potential timeline was laid out by Gates that in an ideal scenario would have the actual construction at Brush Creek beginning by September 2021. From there, the goal would be to have 25 percent of the project ready for people to move into by the spring of 2022, with the remaining 75 percent of the project completed by the end of that year.

“When we can get the green light with the two towns, things could start moving much more quickly than what I’ve outlined,” Gates added. “Because of the critical need for a project in the north valley such as Brush Creek and with the Gunnison project in process, it should help in speeding up the process once everyone is working in the same direction. It could happen faster than what I’ve outlined. I would certainly be relived if we can get past the stage we are stuck in and have the project move forward.”

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