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9 years after first proposal, home construction seen this year in Uintah Bluffs development

A view west from the north part of the Uintah Bluffs property shows a Colorado Springs Utilities water tower on a neighboring parcel and Pikes Peak in the far background. Photo was taken from a social trail that is roughly where part of the street into the property will be cut in for the Uintah Bluffs development.
Westside Pioneer photo
A map shows the location of Uintah Bluffs (orange, in the middle, marked with "PUD" and "Site") in relationship to surrounding streets and neighborhoods. The word "PUD" means Planned Unit Development, a flexible type of zoning that was applied to Uintah Bluffs to help the subdivision development deal with the unique issues of the hilltop property. The curvy street on the far left is Manitou Boulevard. Through an easement agreement with the city that includes the developer putting a trail through the property and establishing a trail maintenance fund, street access to Uintah Bluffs will be built through Mesa Open Space, starting from the 90-degree turn that Manitou Boulevard makes just south of it.
Courtesy of City Land Use Review
       Nine years after his initial submittal to the city, Uintah Bluffs subdivision developer Matt Craddock of Craddock Companies thinks construction can start this spring, with “houses to show by the end of summer.”
       City Council gave final approval last fall to plans for 31 single-family homes on the 13-acre hilltop plateau south of Uintah Street and east of Manitou Boulevard.
       Craddock said in a recent interview he has a contract with Adamo Homes of Castle Rock to design and build the project's homes.
       Four different ranch-home designs, including styles with two to four bedrooms, are shown on the Adamo website.
       “We're very excited to work with them,” Craddock said. He predicted that the price range would be between $300,000 and $400,000.
       The main goal, Craddock said, is to have “more of a neighborhood or community rather than a straight-up subdivision. It will be more like a little enclave back there.”
       The approved 31 lots for homes could end up being reduced to 30, depending on whether a lot that would need a retaining wall is developed or not, he said. The city approval allows a height limit of 35 feet high for 11 homes and 30 feet for the others.
       Deciding on a viable plan for the property has been complicated over the years by various factors, including street access (it had none to begin with), steep terrain (it's in a hillside overlay zone) and drainage control (a stormwater detention pond will be needed in the southeasterly, lowest part of the site).
       The formal council approval in November - following a favorable recommendation from Planning Commission - OK'd a new development plan and a change of zone from planned unit development (PUD) for attached homes to a PUD for single-family detached homes.
       Craddock had been seeking a development fit for the site since acquiring the property in 2005. An early draft, shown at a public meeting but never formally submitted, suggested 120 apartment units.
       The city did approve a plan/zone change to allow 52 townhome lots in 2012, but Craddock decided not to go forward with it.
       He only decided in the last year or so that single-family would make the most economic sense. The resulting density reduction helped build neighborhood support, Craddock believes The Organization of Westside Neighbors (OWN) backed
A view to the east from Uintah Bluffs shows Bristol Elementary at the base of the hill below the property.
Westside Pioneer photo
the new plan, and Mike Schultz, the city planner assigned to the proposal, reported only one e-mail in opposition.
       Craddock said he thinks it also helped that he kept up communications with the neighborhood all those years. Since buying the property in 2005, “I've had 10 public meetings as well as 10 sit-downs with OWN [a Westside advocacy group],” he recalled.
       The homes will be constructed around a single road, Uintah Bluffs Place - which itself needs to be built - connecting from Manitou Boulevard. Ending at a cul de sac, the road will curve through the west/northwest/north part of the site - an area selected because it would require the least amount of earth movement. Also, according to project information, less than 20 percent of the property will be actually built on.
       Still, “significant grading” will be necessary, Schultz noted in his project analysis. Two Uintah Bluffs non-use variances, approved by the city in 2012, allow grading on 2.5 acres that have slopes of 25 percent or more, the analysis points out.
       Overall, Schultz recommended approval, noting compliance with city comprehensive plan goals, one of which is to “encourage infill and redevelopment projects that are in character and context with existing, surrounding development”; another of which is to “preserve and incorporate significant natural features into the design of new development by using innovative planning, design and best management practices.”
       Because the fairly remote property has been popular with hikers over the years, the project plans include a right of way for a public trail between Bristol Park (east of Uintah Bluffs) and Mesa Open Space (west of it). The developer is to establish a “maintenance fund” with City Parks to take care of the trail. This deal with the city was finalized in 2012, in conjunction with the city giving the developer an easement of a few hundred feet through the city's Mesa Open Space to allow the street access from Manitou Boulevard.
       As to why that route was used, studies had shown that connecting an access road with either of the streets neighboring the property (Dale Street or Mesa Road) would have been too steep.

Westside Pioneer article
(Posted 1/27/15; Land: Construction)

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