Monday, November 29, 2010
Student Apartments Rejected by Fort Collins
Recently, the Fort Collins Planning and Zoning Board rejected a proposal by Campus Crest Development to build a 624 bedroom apartment complex targeted at students. Just 2 blocks south of the Colorado State University campus, the land on which the apartments are to be built is owned by the Colorado State University Research Foundation(CSURF) and would be leased long term to the developer. In rejecting the student housing project, called The Grove, the Planning and Zoning Board noted it does not meet current land use codes.
Potential neighbors for the proposed project raised numerous issues with the City of Fort Collins regarding the incompatibility of the apartments with the nearby homes and natural area. Citizen opposition to the project voiced concerns over the level of quality in the construction, seeming lack of "green" standards in project construction, parking issues and the developer's history of management once its apartment complexes are complete.
There is no doubt that as the enrollment at CSU continues to grow there will be a need for more student housing to be built, whether it be apartments, condos, lofts or townhomes. And Campus Crest has put forward a serious proposal to meet part of that need. But, Fort Collins can do better.
The Coloradoan reported on November 26, 2010 that the Fort Collins Planning and Zoning board found that the Campus Crest development plan "would be detrimental to the public good."
In my opinion, the apartment project appears to be a standardized plan without sufficient consideration either to the actual site or to the surrounding neighborhoods of which it would become a part. Campus Crest has made changes and improvements to its original plan but I believe more are needed to meet the high standards and expectations of city residents for new developments in our community. And Campus Crest seems to want to rush the process for City approval, submitting a new development plan while having two appeals pending on their original plan. It is my belief that rushing decisions on a project of this scope will not lead to a high quality development.
Even more troubling is the article in the Northern Colorado Business Report that uncovered as many as 20 Campus Crest sub-contractors on their Evans, Colorado apartment project who filed liens of almost $2 million in order to get paid. The report indicates that, although the sub-contractors were eventually paid, some had to settle for as little as 50 cents on the dollar for what Campus Crest owed them. For me, that's a pretty big red flag.
Students who are potential occupants of the apartments, if they are approved and built, might want to check out the generally poor tenant ratings of Campus Crest's similar development in Evans, Colorado. The link to their rating page on apartmentratings.com is here.
My opinion is that Fort Collins can, and indeed should, do better for student housing than what is currently proposed for The Grove and if Campus Crest can improve their proposal to meet community standards and expectations, then great. If not, then they won't have my support.