The incredible shrinking Filing 2
Gold Hill Mesa development moving forward, but in ‘smaller chunks’

       Encouraged by steady - though unspectacular - house sales in Filing 1, Gold Hill Mesa's developers are starting to focus on Filing 2.

Looking east from the Gold Hill Mesa property near 21st Street, current homes in Filing 1 can be seen. The open area in the foreground with fire hydrants and curb and gutter is part of Filing 2.
Westside Pioneer photo

       But it's a smaller Filing 2 than in a Gold Hill Mesa Partners development plan that was previously approved by the city, reflecting a financially prompted decision to advance the project in “smaller chunks,” as ownership member Bob Willard put it this week.
       A submittal to City Land Use Review last week requests approval of a minor amendment to the approved Phase 1 development plan (for Filings 1 and 2) and of a final subdivision plat. The plat calls for 30 lots (potentially 37 units) on 6.39 acres. By comparison, the 2007 development plan listed Filing 2 for 73 units on 16 acres. (In an even greater contrast, the earliest development plan, approved by the city in 2004, optimistically proposed a Filing 2 with 138 units on just under 30 acres.)
       The new submittal does not require Planning Commission or City Council action and can be approved by a city planner.
       Typical for large developments, the 210-acre Gold Hill Mesa (master-planned for about 1,000 homes), is separated into filings. The 114-lot (168-unit) Filing 1, including a community center and several dozen homes on 27 acres north of Lower Gold Camp Road, has been under construction for the past two years. Filing 2 is just west of that.
       Future filings (still in the planning stages) would build out the rest of Gold Hill's homes in the years ahead, plus add a commercial center near 21st Street and Highway 24 and possibly another at Lower Gold Camp and 21st.
       The new Filing 2 will still look much like the smaller-lot, traditional neighborhood development (TND) homes already built in Filing 1. Nor will the new submittal alter the previously planned density and layout for Filing 2. Streets and alleys, with “wet utilities” (water and stormwater) beneath them, are already defined by curbs and gutters in preparatory work that's occurred in Filing 2 over the past several months, according to Gold Hill property manager Barry Brinton.
       The submittal's amendment request is for approval of “some minor lot line adjustments [that are] intended to provide a better lot arrangement for home builders within the development,” the submittal states.

Heavy equipment has been at work on the southwest corner of the Gold Hill Mesa property, fronting onto the intersection of Lower Gold Camp Road and 21st Street (background). Part of this acreage had been included in an earlier Filing 2 (and, before that, had been a sledding hill), but now it is being rough-graded to the level of Lower Gold Camp so it could be usable for residential and/or commercial uses in the future, according to Bob Willard of the Gold Hill Mesa ownership group. Final plans are still in the conceptual stages, although he said a Walgreens has been looking at the site.
Westside Pioneer photo

       According to Willard, the Filing 2 strategy change was shaped by a national real-estate downturn in the past year and a half. Directly affecting Gold Hill was the bankruptcy of original project builder John Laing Homes. This tied up 45 Filing 1 lots that Laing had reserved into litigation (as well as 10 in various stages of completion), and it remains unknown how long the process will take to untie them. At the same time, despite the economy, the public has shown interest in Gold Hill's TND product. The purchase pace is well below what Willard had once predicted (144 homes a year), but 63 homes/townhomes have been sold since 2007.
       He is lining up builders. Creekstone Homes, a new Colorado Springs company, is the latest, with homes in the $300,000-plus range. Challenger Homes, which came on board last spring, is building in the $200,000 range, and Willard said he is working on bringing in a fourth builder this fall.
       What's available in Filing 1 are three completed Challenger homes, two that Creekstone will build and 41 unbuilt lots platted for houses/ townhomes, according to Gold Hill information. The ownership consensus is to build out Filing 1 before moving headlong into Filing 2.
       On the whole, Willard thinks the real-estate industry is starting to come back, but is not sure how speedy or significant a rebound it will be. He just doesn't want to be caught without houses to sell. “The market is starting to ramp up,” he said, “but it takes a while.”
       Elsewhere on the property, rough-grading is occurring on several acres (not yet part of a filing) fronting onto 21st Street and Lower Gold Camp Road that could become residential and/or commercial. One interested party is Walgreens, Willard said.

Westside Pioneer article