Large homebuilding project proposed at Fillmore and Mesa

       Colorado Springs Planning has received a request to allow a large housing development near Holmes Middle School and Coronado High School.
       Proposed by the Sunrise Company's Garden of the Gods Club LLC, the Sentinel Ridge project would build 83 single-family homes in a 27.6-acre gated community as the first filing on a total of about 135 acres.
       The project would be southeast of Mesa Road and Fillmore Street - next to Holmes on Mesa and across Fillmore from Coronado.
       Representatives of Sunrise believe the work will enhance the area and be popular with home-buyers, but James Mayerl of City Planning cautioned about potentially “controversial” aspects of the proposal and said he will call for a neighborhood meeting before making a recommendation.
       The location mainly consists of little hills and gullies that were once used for sand and gravel mining and, in recent years, have been popular with dirt bikers. Although Sunrise is asking the city to lift the more restrictive Hillside Overlay zone, its goal is not just easing grading for home-building but (according to a document by a Sunrise Company consultant that accompanied the plan submittal) for soil stability and preserved drainage channels and wetlands.
       The plan also calls for landscaping and public improvements along Mesa, Fllmore and Grande Vista Circle (off Fillmore). There would also be a park inside the gated community.
       “It's a great location,” said Vicki Kipp, marketing director for the Sunrise Company. And focus groups have shown that “everyone really likes that area. It has such great views, with Pikes Peak and Garden of the Gods on one side and the city lights on the other.”
       Home prices for Sentinel Ridge are still being worked out, but are expected to be upwards of $400,000.
       The area is within a roughly two-by-three-mile overall area on the mesa that was sold by the Hill family to the Sunrise Company last year. Under what is now called the Garden of the Gods Club Master Plan, the Sentinel Ridge property could have been developed with higher-density multifamily housing; however, there seems to be a good market for single-family homes of this type on the Westside, Kipp said.
       Under the Garden of the Gods Club Master Plan, up to 360 units could have been squeezed into the 135 acres. Mayerl said he believes the eventual number will be “substantially less than that.”
       Even in the master plan, more than half the 135 acres in Sentinel Ridge is shown as being set aside for open space.
       The balance of that acreage (outside of Filing 1) continues to the southeast, into the same kind of rugged terrain, and relatively far away from any major roads or developed areas.
       Mayerl has listed three points he believes could be controversial in Filing 1: a proposed Mesa Road access next to Holmes, the amount of earth-moving and the “dramatic change to Fillmore Street” that would result from the project.
       Access: The plan suggests a new street from Mesa Road that would line up with Friendship Lane. The first part of the street would be shared with Holmes, with a fork allowing traffic to go around the north side of the school to the rear parking lot as it does now. After that, the street would become private, with gated access into Sentinel Ridge.
       In conjunction with a Mesa Road access - it's not officially being called a “trade” - Sunrise has proposed installing a sidewalk in front of Coronado, and elsewhere as needed from Mesa Road to Centen-nial Boul-evard. (The project would include sidewalk on the south side of Fillmore in any case).
       Terry Johns, the planner/ architect for District 11, said he “didn't see a problem” with such an access, which would require an easement from D-11. The developers are “also talking about a fence in front of Coronado's parking lot (similar to the one at Kissing Camels Office Park up the street),” Johns said. “They want to dress it up a little. They're trying to make the whole thing look upscale. We welcome any growth on the Westside to help fill our schools.”
       Without the access, there would be only one way into Sentinel Ridge, from Grande Vista Circle.
       Earth-moving: Sunrise's submittal offers no exact estimate for the amount of grading, but Mayerl anticipates that “a lot of earth-moving” would be needed, chiefly from the east part of the property to the west part.” The consultant's document says the grading will be less than the extensive cut-and-fill over the past year at the top of the Fillmore Hill, south of Centennial Boulevard and Fillmore Street, which was in preparation for the future Colorado Springs Health Partners campus on that site.
       Dramatic change: The part of Fillmore fronting the Sentinel Ridge project “will be more urban or suburban, rather than rural, the way it looks now,” Mayerl predicted. How such a prospect will be perceived by Westside residents is unknown.
       Mayerl added that he is still reviewing the Sentinel Ridge proposal, but believes the developer needs to submit a master plan amendment to show the reduced density and to address any vision changes for the remainder of the 135 acres.
       He did not know how soon a neighborhood meeting would be held, but it would be open to people inside and outside the Garden of the Gods Club, he said.
       According to Kipp, the Sunrise Company is accomplishing development or upgrade activities elsewhere in the master-planned area, which consists of 705 acres.
       These activities include:
  • Obtaining City Planning Commission approval Jan. 3 for the 79-unit Red Rock Point development west of the gate near the Grand View Marketplace shopping center at Centennial and Fillmore (this project also reflected a density reduction: five units). Model homes could be built by next January, Kipp said.
  • Beginning development activity in the previously approved Cathedral Ridge development on the ridge above 30th Street.
  • Major renovations to the Garden of the Gods Golf Club, including a remodel of the lounge and main dining room, the golf course and the clubhouse (upgrading the shop and restaurant and adding a fitness center).
  • Forming plans to gate the entire master-planned area, including the Garden of the Gods Club itself. For the time being, Kipp said, members of the public wishing to learn more about Sunrise Company's plans on the mesa can get them from the information desk near the front of the club at 3320 Mesa Road.

    Westside Pioneer article