Proposed El Jebel project grows despite economy |

Proposed El Jebel project grows despite economy

EL JEBEL, Colorado ” At a time when many private-sector development projects have stalled in the stagnant economy, one El Jebel, Colorado proposal is growing.

Ace Lane has increased the number of residences in his El Jebel-area project from 249 to 319, according to Jon Fredericks, a member of Lane’s development team.

Fredericks said bigger really is better in this case. The square footage of the residential part of the project will remain the same even though there are 70 additional units in the revised application, he said. The sizes of the residences were reduced.

Plus, only nine of the new units are free-market residences. The other 61 additions either have restrictions on the sales prices or are “resident occupied,” where buyers must be full-time residents of the valley.

Under the old plan, 43 percent of the residences were “work-force” housing, Fredericks said. Now 53 percent of the housing is for workers.

The plan also includes 94,000 square feet of commercial space for shops, restaurants and offices.

Lane owns property across Highway 82 from the Willits Town Center. The property is eye-catching because it has a water ski lake and the Wind River tree nursery. Lane sought approval in 2006 for a large project, but he withdrew the plan before a formal vote by the Eagle County commissioners because of community and government opposition. The old project was called Tavaci. The new project is called the Tree Farm.

He turned in the application for the Tree Farm in September and revised it Dec. 3.

Lane and his team claim the revised proposal is better because it is pedestrian-oriented and close to public bus lines; features energy-efficient construction; will rely heavily on solar electric power; and is oriented toward local workers.

The number of deed-restricted units increased from 84 to 128 in the latest proposal.

The resident-occupied units increased from 24 to 41, while the number of free-market units increased from 141 to 150.

The Roaring Fork Regional Planning Commission, an advisory branch of Eagle County government, starts the review of the Tree Farm Thursday, Jan. 22. The hearing will be held in El Jebel at a time to be announced.

Midvalley resident Ken Ransford led opposition to the Tavaci version of the project in 2006, and he said Tuesday night he will fight the revised project. The impact of the Tree Farm combined with adjacent midvalley projects will make the neighborhood one of the most dense in the Roaring Fork Valley, he told the Basalt Town Council. “I think it is going to have an impact on my way of life,” Ransford said.

The Basalt council didn’t take a position for or against Lane’s project at its meeting Tuesday night. Instead, it will ask Eagle County government to hold a joint meeting to discuss the project details. In an agreement signed last year, the two governments vow to give one another enhanced input on a development applications on projects of mutual interest. In this case, that theoretically means Basalt will have more clout in the Tree Farm review even though the project is officially in Eagle County. Basalt plans to test that agreement.

“This is a massive development project right next to the town of Basalt,” Councilman Gary Tennenbaum said.

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