New developers present plan for Gypsum’s Stratton Flats: Proposal would increase density, number of rental units | VailDaily.com

New developers present plan for Gypsum’s Stratton Flats: Proposal would increase density, number of rental units

GYPSUM — Perhaps the third time will be the charm for the Stratton Flats development in Gypsum.

The latest plan for the Stratton Flats was unveiled this week and includes 44 single family homes, 25 two-floor townhomes and 12 three-floor apartment buildings. The plan increases the project's overall density by 133 dwelling units, from a total of 339 to 479 and significantly increases the number of rental units at the site.

Wednesday night the Gypsum Planning Commission unanimously agreed to forward the latest Stratton Flats plan to the Gypsum Town Council for consideration.

The town approved the current Stratton Flats planned unit development plan back in 2008 and the previous developers invested $18 million for infrastructure at the site. However, only 25 percent of the approved units have been built to date.

A new entity, Polar Star Development, currently has the undeveloped Stratton Flats land under contract. The firm's local projects include EagleBend Apartments, Kayak Crossing, Buffalo Ridge, Lake Creek Apartments, River Edge Apartments and the Tarnes. Polar Star Development's principals are Gerry Flynn and Jeff Spanel, who have lived and worked in the valley more than 30 years.

Concept plan changes

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Until this point, for-sale residences comprised the majority of the Stratton Flats plan. The new concept increases the project rental units from 69 to 284.

Single family units have been cut from a proposed 152 units in the current, undeveloped plan to 44 units in Polar Star Development's proposal. The new sketch plan for Stratton Flats includes 100 townhome units, planned as fourplex buildings with two- and three-bedroom layouts and attached garages. Eight of the townhome buildings are planned for Habitat for Humanity development.

The 12 three-floor apartment buildings, which would bring rental units to the Stratton Flats development, are garden style buildings and include one-, two- and three-bedroom units.

According to the Polar Star proposal the apartments will be developed as affordable units for local housing under federal guidelines. That means roughly 40 percent of the units will target households earning no more than 60 percent of the Eagle County average media income. The remaining units will be rented at market rates. The developers stressed that there are no Section 8 or other state or federal subsidized rental units proposed at Stratton Flats.

Development amenities

Polar Star Development says there will be a nearly 30 percent increase in parks and open space as part of the new proposal. Those amenities will be available to the entire community.

The proposed amenities include six separate parks that include two children's playgrounds, a dog park, a soccer field, a basketball court, a community garden, pickleball courts, volleyball courts, trails, an ECO trail connection and barbecue and picnic areas. Additionally, a clubhouse with public restrooms, a meeting room and a small exercise facility is included as part of the proposal.

Why the changes?

In its proposal to the town, Polar Star Development noted the valleywide need for rental units.

"Affordable rental housing is desperately needed in the community and will also serve area seniors who want to live close to family," noted the developers. "This new project plan will significantly increase available open space and parkland while Polar Star would fund 75 percent of all common area maintenance costs. This will reduce the current financial burden on existing owners and the homeowners association."

But residents of the existing Stratton Flats development have expressed concerns about the proposed changes. According to Lana Gallegos, Gypsum town planner, adjacent property owners have questioned the additional density, traffic and neighborhood impacts. She noted residents have also voiced concerns about changing the neighborhood from predominantly for-sale units to a large number of rental units. Gallegos said residents are concerned the proposal will negatively impact existing property values.

In response, the developers argue their plan will not lower property values. "Eleven of the single family homes will now have park frontage and the addition of parks and amenities will bolster property values. Valuations of property adjacent to EagleBend and Lake Creek apartments have kept pace with the surrounding market," notes the project's proposal.

With the planning commission approval, the plan will now go before the Gypsum Town Council. The town council is slated to begin review of the proposal at its next meeting, scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 14.