Trustees approve rezoning for Walnut Square apartments

Development would provide workforce and senior housing

Tabatha Stewart
Special to Colorado Community Media
Posted 7/13/18

The Elizabeth Board of Trustees approved a zoning change during a recent meeting for the property located at 120 Walnut St. to allow multi-family dwellings. The site, which has been empty for more …

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Trustees approve rezoning for Walnut Square apartments

Development would provide workforce and senior housing

Posted

The Elizabeth Board of Trustees approved a zoning change during a recent meeting for the property located at 120 Walnut St. to allow multi-family dwellings. The site, which has been empty for more than a decade, is being eyed by Greenstreet LLC as the first project in Elizabeth to address the challenges of workforce housing.

Joel Oliver, developer with Greenstreet, said he has been focusing on workforce housing for the past six years, and hopes to see completion of the Walnut Square apartments as early as spring of 2020.

”We started meeting with the Town of Elizabeth last November to address the issue of workforce housing options,” said Oliver. ”The town is trying to figure out what do do about this. Police, fire, teachers, nobody could afford to live in town. People who work at Walmart are commuting an hour to work each day.”

The 1.58-acre development would include 44 rental units, a playground and an on-site community room for residents. The complex would also be required to set aside 20 percent of the land as open space.

Oliver said the town trustees and residents have been receptive to the idea of the project, and proposed zoning changes were not disputed.

”I would actually say it's the most receptive community that I've worked with,” said Oliver. ”I think people in Elizabeth realize that people who live in this kind of community, their kids' teachers, firemen and retired parents, could use this kind of development.”

Rezoning the property is only the first step of many before apartments will actually be built and available for rent, according to Grace Erickson, community development director for the town.

”We did approve zoning on the Greenstreet project for a multi-family dwelling,” said Erickson. ”After they receive grant money and are ready to go forward, they will submit a site plan to the town, including looks at the design and architecture they propose.”

Erickson said the town's master plan, which was developed in 2008, identified multifamily housing to consist of about 0.4 percent of the town, and no multi-family dwellings have been added since. She said the town doesn't differentiate between multi-famiy dwelling, apartments or affordable housing, and therefore doesn't track information such as how many rental units are in the town, of whether or not a multi-family dwelling is affordable housing.

”We've approved the zoning, and we don't have any part in the financing or rental qualifications of a development,” said Erickson.

She said based on the history of the site and Greenstreet's market studies, the development is a good fit.

”The town has been seeking redevelopment of the site for at least 10 years,” said Erickson. ”It's a good site for multi-family. It's located in close proximity to the town's trail project, which will be constructed this year. It's within walking distance of schools and amenities, and it's located on Elbert Street (the intersecting street at the site), which does have the capacity to handle the increased traffic projected from this type of project.

”The town is aware that we have an aging demographic in Elbert County, and this could provide housing options in this category."

Greenstreet has applied for a grant through the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, or CHFA, which if awarded in September, will be the first ever awarded in Elbert County, according to Oliver. Once the grant is received, Oliver anticipates construction could begin as early as spring 2019.

When completed, Walnut Square apartments would be available for rent based on income guidelines, and Greenstreet would receive tax credits in exchange for keeping rents low. According to the CHFA, each county has its own set of income limits, based on the median household income. Eligible program units are designed for households making less than 60 percent of the median household income.

Oliver said he didn't know the exact numbers for income restrictions, but estimates their apartments will rent for about $452 to $789 monthly for a one-bedroom, $535 to $1,082 for a two-bedroom, including a garage, and about $1,242 for a three-bedroom apartment.

”It's a long process, and always a challenge when you are the first project in a community. It sets an example for future projects,” said Oliver. ”We really believe there's enough need in the town and surrounding county.”

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