A rendering of the proposed Landmark Village project shows two- and three-story multifamily units, which the finished price will approach $1 million. Courtesy rendering
BY JAN WONDRA
Greenwood Village City Council continues to mull the development plan for a 104-unit multifamily development, Landmark Village that would be located on 13.1 acres just south of the current Landmark Towers and close to the Orchard Light Rail Station.
At its Feb. 22 meeting a developer, Century Communities appeared to have met every condition put before it at the previous meeting, with a city staff recommending approval to a reluctant council. The questioning, which at time bordered on impatient, if not hostile, resulted in the developer pulling its project application.
The proposed Landmark Village project falls within an area the city calls the Orchard Station Sub-area. A not-yet-finalized plan for the area surrounding the Orchard Light Rail Station, identified as a mixed-use area requiring more density, includes office, retail, restaurants and housing. The plan changes based on the earlier hearing include covering all porches, lighting uniformity, building height restrictions, fence setbacks, 4.5 acres of public space, higher-end finishes and elevations.
“Is this transit-oriented development,” asked Councilman Tom Bishop?
Senior City Planner Ben Thurston said, “Yes, we’re developing a variety of densities within this area and this is appropriate land use next to Landmark Village.”
The proposed project would sit on land currently owned by the FDIC, which has set a decision deadline. Century Communities said the audience for these homes would be empty nesters and singles. Lest you think of these homes as low-end, it should be pointed out that the base price of the homes, which range from 1,200 to 3,500 square feet, would be $600,000 – $700,000, and that’s for starters.
“These units will be $900,000 to $1 million by the time that people add their finishes—marble, exotic woods, elevators—things like that,” said Liesel Cooper, Colorado president and executive vice president-corporate for Century Communities. “These are high-end homes, made for people who simply want to live close to things; people who may want to stay in Greenwood Village and no longer wish to take care of expansive lawns and spaces.”
Council members at times appeared to insist upon design elements that had already been added, a few questioning if the designs were distinctive for Greenwood Village or if they could be in Cherry Creek mall area.
“Well, I guess I’m only mildly insulted,” said Paul Brady, principal with Godden Sudik Architects, gripping the podium with both hands, when asked why the changes to the design plan didn’t look “more distinctive.” “We call this urban-suburban, a mix of scales and building materials. We looked at housing styles in Greenwood Village and this is a blend of the city’s architecture types. We’ve incorporated a mix of styles that represent roof lines, stone and brick exteriors. We’ve added high-end finishes, all the porches are covered, even the finishes of rear exteriors have been upgraded.”
Participants in the public hearing largely appeared to favor the project, including the Landmark Towers Home Owners Association.
“The association overwhelming favors this application,” said Karen Holbert, president of the HOA. “Century Communities has worked wonderfully with us, listening to our concerns. We have a lot of reasons to be skeptical, given our development’s history, but we like this project.”
“I’m excited to have them as neighbors to The Landmark. This is the right density for the site,” said Brad Arnold, VP of marketing for EastWest Partners.
The Orchard Station sub-area plan calls for around 900 housing units across the nearly 40-acre area, down from around 2,000 in early discussion stages.
“The Orchard Station Sub-area is on our work agenda for this year and we haven’t finished it … infill is becoming important here,” said Councilwoman Leslie Schluter. “We’re actively working to achieve development that is transit-oriented. It should include foot and bicycle use.”
Greenwood Village has, historically, had a tortured relationship with multifamily housing. Its comprehensive plan appears to discourage multifamily housing except in the Village Center area, which currently has no multifamily housing near the light rail stop.
“The comprehensive plan is in conflict with the master plan – it talks about mixed use in the general sense, and we want that in the Tech Center, but it permits very limited multifamily outside of the Village Center, which is down south,” said Thurston. “We’ll address it in the Orchard Station Sub-area plan.”
Greenwood Village’s preferred housing type is single-family homes on 2.5 acres, but many residential areas annexed during the city’s decades-long expansion do not meet that criteria. During the November 2015 election, several City Council members expressed their extreme opposition to multifamily housing units, no matter the impact. Others cognizant of the research by city planners came out in favor of multifamily housing, although all preferred owner-occupied.
The developer is not unknown to council. It is currently building Caley Ponds in Greenwood Village. Had the council voted to reject the proposal, the developer would have had to wait a full year before resubmitting a development proposal.