Town of Gypsum gives initial approval for Siena Lake, a new age 55-plus project | VailDaily.com

Town of Gypsum gives initial approval for Siena Lake, a new age 55-plus project

GYPSUM — The town of Gypsum has given initial approval for a plan to develop an age 55-plus community on property south of the Eagle County Regional Airport, clearing the way for the Siena Lake project team to flesh out details for the proposed 559-unit development.

Property owner George Roberts, along with Tambi Katieb, of Land Planning Collaborative, and Alison Perry, of Vail Land Co., presented the project sketch plan to the Gypsum Town Council last week. The property is the site of the former Saddleridge proposal that was annexed into the town back in 2002.

Katieb noted the original plan for the 170-acre site was for a golf club resort. However, the new plan is for a very different development that is centered on a lake that will be created on the property. The plan also calls for trails and a clubhouse on the property, with 332 units comprising the 55-plus community and an additional 227 units in a "mountain cottage" and high-end RV neighborhood.

"This is really driven by amenities and low maintenance of homes," Katieb said.

“Do you have any plans to address this being an empty community that Airbnb rents out most of the year? ... I am somewhat concerned about the size of the project and what that does to the town of Gypsum. Do you have a plan for how many units per year that you would do, and would you be willing to limit that number?”Tom EdwardsTown council member, Gypsum

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He noted that the vision for the lake portion of the Siena Lake project is for smaller patio homes. While the mountain cottages also will feature small, low-maintenance structures, they won't be tiny homes. And, Katieb stressed, the RVs allowed at the site will be luxury models.

"They will have to be in excellent or good condition," he said.

Council concerns

While the Gypsum council members were supportive of the overall plan, they questioned how the developers will prevent the mountain cottage/RV neighborhood from becoming a workforce housing area.

Council member Chris Estes noted that in today's market, full-time residents could purchase an RV and place it at the site at a lower cost than purchasing a home. He asked how the developers would prevent that from happening.

"I am sure you can see the concern here," Estes said.

Roberts responded that there will be covenant restrictions in place for the RV sites.

"We don't want it to turn into year-round RV housing," he said.

"Do you have any plans to address this being an empty community that Airbnb rents out most of the year?" asked council member Tom Edwards.

"I don't want to see it as an empty community, either," Roberts said. "We don't see these as second homes, necessarily. We look at is as more of a lock-and-leave situation."

New to the valley

Beyond their questions of how the 55-plus community will function, Gypsum officials voiced enthusiasm for the project.

"I think you are presenting a very nice project. It's exciting," said Gypsum Mayor Steve Carver.

Town council members did, however, note they want to see a finished development that reflects the high standards presented in the plan.

"I am somewhat concerned about the size of the project and what that does to the town of Gypsum," Edwards said. "Do you have a plan for how many units per year that you would do, and would you be willing to limit that number?"

Roberts responded that phasing on the plan would be market driven but build out is projected to take at least seven years. The initial phase consists of the mountain cottage/RV neighborhood and 56 of the 55-plus neighborhood sites.

"I am very appreciative of how you guys have accepted this concept," Roberts said. He noted the density figure of 559 units is the maximum that would be allowed at the site, but the actual density at Siena Lake would be determined as the detailed plans progress.

"The interior and exterior of these home won't be cookie cutter," Roberts said. "I am really looking for approval at this level to turn the guys loose."

Siena Lake PUD

• Age 55 and older active adult community of as many as 332 dwelling units

• Mountain cottage residential community, a high-end RV park or any combination of both up to 227 dwelling units

• Mixed-use commercial development along Cooley Mesa Road, including as many as 32 live-work projects

• Private clubhouse, community center, lake and other owner and resident amenities

• Open space and trails system, including improved motorized Bureau of Land Management public access and a town adventure park (located near the site of the sledding hill south of Costco)