Gold Hill Mesa developers tweak their plans

       A set of applications by Gold Hill Mesa's ownership group signals an evolution in plans for the 210-acre Westside development.
       These desired effects include:
  • Creating by August a permanent entrance road to the subdivision from 21st Street at what is now Villa de Mesa Drive.
  • In the area of that road, developing a revised Filing 3 with 21 single-family homes and up to 205 units of multi-family.
  • Expanding Gold Hill's commercial footprint four acres farther east than previously planned along the south side of Fountain Creek.

    The Villa de Mesa subdivision (left) and the current northernmost homebuilding of Gold Hill Mesa (right). Plans submitted to the city include a request for a new road alignment to allow traffic from 21st Street (out of picture at far left) past Villa de Mesa and through the open area near the low wall, with homes built on either side.
    Westside Pioneer photo

           Bob Willard, lead developer for the Gold Hill Mesa Partners LLC, said the plans don't represent any radical changes from the “traditional neighborhood design” (TND) philosophy that he has sought for the project's first 100-some residences. “Whatever we do will complement the downtown and Old Colorado City,” he said.
           Gold Hill Mesa covers much of the former Golden Cycle gold mill land, bordered by Lower Gold Camp Road, 21st Street, Highway 24 and homes from other developments. Current home construction is on Filing 1 in the southeast part of the property. Filing 2 is platted just west of that.

    Bob Willard

    The previous Gold Hill concept plan. The new plan calls for homes instead of mixed uses between Villa de Mesa (the uncolored enclave) and 21st Street, elimination of the connector road shown in the same area, a geographically smaller Filing 3 and business instead of housing on 4 acres easterly along Fountain Creek.
    Westside Pioneer photo

           The overall concept plan indicates up to 1,000 homes eventually and 800,000 square feet of commercial properties.
           The recent submittal to City Land Use Review also accounts for past land swaps along the boundaries between Gold Hill Mesa and the 40-year-old, 25-home Villa de Mesa subdivision, just east of 21st Street, that Gold Hill surrounds. The boundary issues had been amiably worked out a few years ago after discussions between the LLC and the Villa de Mesa Homeowners Association, according to Lana Wright, former association president and its continuing liaison to the LLC.
           The LLC application to the city asks for rezoning for both entities (so that Villa de Mesa will be all PUD zoning and Gold Hill all TND).
           As for Gold Hill Mesa's planned entrance from 21st Street, it would start where Villa de Mesa Drive now intersects 21st. The drive currently goes straight to the older subdivision. The Gold Hill plan shows a new road, named Gold Hill Mesa Drive, curving southeast from that point on 21st, around the large sign for the project that Willard had built last year in time for the Parade of Homes and into his subdivision.
           Once the new alignment is in, Villa de Mesa residents will no longer have a straight-in access. They will have to turn left from Gold Hill Mesa Drive onto Villa de Mesa Drive to get to their homes (and right to get out). However, the association did win two requested revisions to the original Gold Hill concept plan - multifamily homes are now proposed instead of mixed uses (potentially including businesses) between Villa de Mesa and 21st Street; also, no longer in the plan is a connector road in front of Villa de Mesa, taking Gold Hill traffic to its northern areas. “We did not want a big street just west of the complex,” Wright said. “So after a few meetings with them they took that out, which is good for us.”
           August is the target month to finish the new entrance alignment because that's when the next Parade of Homes will be, explained Barry Brinton, Gold Hill Mesa property manager. Last August - Gold Hill's first in the Parade - a temporary road was graded and lightly paved to accommodate several thousand visitors to the site. But it was not aligned in keeping with the permanent plan, and Willard had the road removed right afterward at the request of Villa de Mesa.
           When built, the connection to 21st Street will be a benefit not just for his development, but for the community as a whole, because it could be a “traffic reliever,” he said: Depending on their ultimate destination, some motorists might even want to “cut through” Gold Hill at times rather than deal with 21st Street, he added.
           Having Filing 3 available for construction will create more development options, including single-family homes with 60-foot-wide lots, Brinton said. These have proven popular on some of the Filing 1 lots; others have 40- and 50-foot fronts, he said.
           Right now, the LLC has a policy of building out Filing 1 before moving on. He did not know if Filing 2 or 3 would be addressed next: “The market will decide that,” Brinton said.
           The plan to increase the commercial footprint by four acres resulted from a reconsideration of the area above Fountain creek at the lower end of the old tailings dam, Willard said. The steepness would make it impossible to build homes on both sides of a street, making the land less cost-effective; and, at the same time, “we asked ourselves, who would want to live 100 yards from a major highway? [Highway 24, paralleling Fountain Creek]” On the other hand, proximity to a heavily travelled road would appeal to many businesses, and the bottom line will be “creating more tax revenue and productive land along the highway,” Willard said.
           The new commercial space will not put Gold Hill over its 800,000 square-foot target, he added. He still does not expect to actually get to that number.
           The public is welcome to submit comments until Wednesday, March 16 on the Gold Hill Mesa Partners LLC request to City Land Use Review. Afterward, the request will be referred to the Planning Commission, according to the city's reviewing planner, Ryan Tefertiller.
           The formal wording of the request, which technically consists of seven applications in all, states: “update the Gold Hill Mesa concept plan, revise zoning/ownership boundaries, vacate and realign the public portion of Villa De Mesa Dr., and allow for the construction of 21 new single-family homes. This project requires the approval of seven applications: a major amendment to the Gold Hill Mesa Concept Plan, three zone changes (TND / PUD to PBC; PBC / PUD to TND; and TND / PBC to PUD), a vacation of public right-of-way, a development plan, and a subdivision plat.”

    Westside Pioneer article