Gypsum approves Spring Creek Village housing proposal at Stratton Flats
GYPSUM — Six months after a 3-3 split vote when they rejected Polar Star Development’s new plan for the Stratton Flats neighborhood, members of the Gypsum Town Council have unanimously approved the developer’s tweaked proposal for the property.
Polar Star has rechristened its proposal as Spring Creek Village, and the plan includes 282 apartments in 12 condo buildings, 76 townhomes in 19 four-plex units and 15 single-family homes. The single-family home component is one of the biggest changes from the previous plan.
The single-family home development is located immediately adjacent to the existing neighborhood located south of U.S. Highway 6 on the eastern side of town. The plan would complete Stratton Circle by looping back to Sunny Avenue, the main entry road to the development. Then, moving to the east from the single-family home neighborhood, the proposal features a dog park and community garden area transitioning into the multi-family buildings and the various amenities planned for the project. The townhomes would be located east of the current Habitat for Humanity units on the northwest part of the site.
“We tried to be sensitive to the comments we have heard,” said Tamby Katieb, of Land Planning Collaborative, the planner for the site.
During a Tuesday night public hearing for the plan, Katieb noted that while the new proposal increases the density at the site by 122 units, the design still reflects a lower density than would be allowed under the town’s rules.
“Significantly, this new plan includes 18 acres of parks and amenities,” Katieb said.
The park amenities proposed include two playgrounds, a soccer field, a basketball court, community gardens, pickleball courts, a dog park, volleyball courts, trails, barbecue and picnic areas and a clubhouse facility. Additionally, there are two perimeter parking areas for residents’ recreational and off-road vehicles. Guest parking is also included in the plan.
The proposed rental structure for Spring Creek Village includes a provision for 97 units to be restricted for households earning between $41,000 and $59,00 annually. The remainder would be rented at market rates.
The proposed rate structure for the 97 restricted units would be $904 monthly for a one-bedroom unit, $1,094 monthly for a two-bedroom unit and $1,269 monthly for a three-bedroom unit.
For the market-rate units, the monthly charges would be $1,160 for a one-bedroom, $1,525 for a two-bedroom and $1,700 for a three-bedroom. Those amounts are higher than other apartment complexes in the Eagle-Gypsum area but fall in line with what is charged upvalley.
Neighbors not convinced
Residents of the existing Stratton Flats neighborhood voiced their concern about changing the development from a for-sale housing project to a rental units project.
“As residents of the community, we bought into the community as homeowners,” said resident Megan Payton.
Several of the current Stratton Flats residents noted they understood that rental housing is needed throughout the valley, but they argued affordable, for-sale, single-family homes are also in short supply. They argued that was the original intent for the area.
“This is going to change everything,” said resident Thomas Carter. “This is way too much rental.”
Representatives from the Stratton Flats Homeowner’s Association requested the town table the proposal for 30 to 60 days.
“We feel like we need more time to discuss this and look at it,” said HOA Board member Heather Dima.
Supporters cite need
A number of business owners from throughout the county offered support for the Spring Creek Village Plan.
John Shipp, owner of The Dusty Boot in Eagle, said he is unable to expand his business because of the lack of employees in the valley. He said the top reason he has trouble finding employees is people can’t find housing.
“We have to address this issue, as a community, from Vail down to Gypsum,” Shipp said.
“One of my biggest problems is finding employees,” said Gypsum business owner Peter Struve. “The first question I ask is, ‘Do you have a place to live?’ That is before ‘Can you count money?’ and ‘How old are you?’”
Kim Williams, of the Eagle County Housing Department, cited statistics showing that today, there is a 4,500-unit shortage in housing units countywide. “We do have a housing problem, and I think this project would help out community as a whole,” she said.
“It’s unfortunate for the homeowners who live there now, but change is inevitable,” said Gypsum Town Council member Chris Estes. “ I do think this location is something we can’t pass up. This is the perfect place for this type of development.”
Other members said they struggled with the issue but ultimately decided the new plan would benefit the larger community.
“We need growth to keep a healthy economy,” said council member Dicky Mayne. “We need places for young people to start out.”
Members said the changes contained in the new plan made it a better fit for the community.
“Polar Star really listened to concerns from the community and our comments,” said council member Marisa Sato. “We are fortunate to have someone local, who will listen to us.”
Mayor Steve Carver agreed. “I wasn’t a big supporter of this project when it first came in. These men were asked to make some big changes, and at this point, I do support it.”
Carver pledged that the town will hold Spring Creek Village to a high standard as the site develops.
“I can assure you this council will make sure every ‘T’ is crossed and every ‘I’ is dotted,” Carver said. “I will guarantee you that their feet will be held to the fire.”
Gore Creek since 2013 has been listed on the state’s list of “impaired waterways.” Several years of work are paying off, but getting off the list has become more difficult.