Developers of Eagle project face fire over water fee reduction request

Eagle board balks at $3M fee reduction for the Reserve at Hockett Gulch

Developers of the Reserve at Hockett Gulch want Eagle to waive $3 million in water fees. Several members of Eagle's town board balked at the idea.
Special to the Daily

What Hockett Gulch wants from Eagle

  • 45-foot building height with a
    maximum of three stories
  • Reduction on parking requirement for multiple family buildings
  • Reduction in park land required to be dedicated to the town
  • Deviation from typical income requirements for workforce housing and price cap for 10 percent of for-sale units
  • Reduced water and sewer impact fee based on actual use — a fee reduction from $6 million to around $2.7 million

What the project brings

  • 500 units on 30 acres, formerly called the JHY Property, to be built in two phases
  • As much as 30,000 square feet of commercial space
  • Phase 1: 396 one- and two-bedroom apartments
  • $1,370 anticipated rent for a
    one-bedroom unit
  • $2,095 anticipated rent for a
    two-bedroom unit
  • 30 percent of the rental apartments deed-restricted for the local workforce, with no income restrictions
  • 15 percent of future for-sale units in Phase 2 to be deed-restricted, including income restrictions
  • Priority to employees of the town of Eagle, Eagle County Schools and the Greater Eagle Fire Protection District on rental wait lists

The next hearing will take place during the Eagle Town Board meeting on April 9 at 6 p.m. at Eagle Town Hall.

EAGLE — An apartment project’s developers are asking the Town Board to reduce its water fees by $3 million.

Not likely, some board members said during their initial hearing.

Like many debates across the American West, this one started with water:

The Reserve at Hockett Gulch’s developers want to pay about $3 million less for water fees than the town’s code appears to require — from $6 million down to around $3 million.

Most of the Town Board’s seven members dug in their heels, saying that request is a non-starter.

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Some board members were non-plussed. Scott Turnipseed said if that’s the case, the board should vote “right now” and to not do that would be a significant “waste of time.”

“You are proposing to pay essentially half the fees we calculated. At the same time, you want to annex into the town. All the other projects pay those fees,” board member Matt Solomon said.

Dominic Mauriello, who presented the project to the board, said developers want to pay for the water they use and that, in fact, they will be paying for more water than they use. They’ll also be using raw water for irrigation, he said.

It’s a process and most boards and developers work through it.

“Based on feedback from the town board of trustees and the public that we heard at the March 12 hearing, we plan to have further dialogue with the town in order to address any deviations, including the water components,” Mauriello said.

If you can’t beat me, buy me

The Reserve at Hockett Gulch proposes 500 units on 30 acres that the developers want to annex into the town. That means 900 new residents shopping and dining in Eagle and supporting local businesses,  Mauriello said.

Eagle’s planning commission unanimously recommended approval, with a list of conditions.

It doesn’t impact many neighbors because it’s proposed for an area that’s largely empty, Mauriello said.

Not so fast, said Corky Fitzsimmons, who owns 70 acres next to the proposed project.

Fitzsimmons asked the board to deny the project, citing its impact on his property from trespassers and others factors. Fitzsimmons offered to sell his property for $21,000 an acre, “the cheapest land on the I-70 corridor,” and less than one-fourth the cost of the $88,000 an acre he says the developers paid for their 30 acres.

“It has views, it has wildlife and it has trespassers,” Fitzsimmons said. “Why would you pass this and burden my property? It’s time for them to get their wallet out.”

Eagle Chamber of Commerce Director Mick Daly was one of many supporting the project, citing millennials and calling them Eagle’s “missing generation.” Daly asserted that they cannot afford to live in the valley and said this project would be part of the solution.

“Rental costs will remain exorbitant until supply roughly eases demand,” Daly said. “This missing generation is our future.”

If it’s built, the Reserve at Hockett Gulch would be one of the most ambitious development projects in recent years. The developers, Brue Baukol Capital Partners, are a Denver-based real estate investment firm.

The developers acquired 2,655 total acres of land from former owner Fred Kummer, including an 18-hole championship golf course and the 1,650-acre Hardscrabble Ranch that was sold for $15.5 million as open space in July 2016.

Kummer also sold Brue Baukol Capital Partners 30 acres on the south edge of Eagle, formerly known as the JHY Property, now the Reserve at Hockett Gulch.

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