Through public input, Gunnison residents in recent weeks overwhelmingly threw their support behind Crested Butte-based developer John Stock of High Mountain Concepts for construction of housing on the city-owned Lazy K parcel.
As a result, city leaders on Tuesday entered a memorandum of understanding with Stock for the phased development of the parcel. City Council additionally approved a motion to enter a contract with local housing consultant Willa Willaford for a total of $7,800 to work alongside Stock as housing is built.
Last week, three finalists for the Lazy K housing project presented their plans to the public — with ideas ranging from live-work cottages to condos and renovated cabins. Besides High Mountain Concepts, other teams included Buena Vistabased Fading West and Gatesco of Houston, Texas.
“High Mountain Concepts had the most favorable impact from the community that participated in this process,” said City Manager Russ Forrest.
Lazy K, located on the south side of West Tomichi Avenue, contains a 5,000-square-foot commercial building, a handful of cabins, numerous ponds and riverfront access. The city purchased the parcel in 2015 and since then has eyed the site for both development of a park and affordable housing.
In October 2017, City Council adopted a strategic plan that identified affordable housing as a primary goal. This past November, city leaders issued a request for proposals (RFP) to solicit plans for three separate housing sites on the property — totaling 4.3 acres.
According to the RFP, the city currently has 2,445 housing units, and approximately 60 percent of those units are rentals. City leaders plan to partner with the Gunnison Valley Regional Housing Authority, which would confirm owner or rental requirements and manage deed restrictions on the Lazy K property.
Stock’s plan proposes a phased development of the site with a total of 56 units — 40 deed restricted and 16 free market properties. As a part of Stock’s proposal, all of the existing structures will be preserved and improved upon in various stages over the next four years.
Following final approval of the plan, Stock will work to renovate the first round of twobedroom cabins on site with the existing commercial building converted to townhomes this year. Next year, Stock proposes to build five cabins and five townhouses, with another 11 townhouses and eight duplexes slated for 2021. A total of 16 townhomes will be built on the west end of the parcel in 2022, bringing the total units to 56 at the end of three years.
Stock’s latest project includes free-market townhomes in Van Tuyl Village on the north side of Gunnison. Stock indicated that for-sale units on the Lazy K parcel also could serve as rentals if the properties don’t sell quickly.
As for the other prospective developers who threw their hat in the ring for Lazy K, Stock indicated plans to work with Susan Wyman, Cheryl Coffey and Dusty Sylvanson — a collaboration that was looked upon in a positive light by city leaders.
High Mountain Concepts also hopes that the public-private partnership would involve the city building out Third Street within the parcel with utilities provided to each site and existing structures retaining their original tap.
“I feel pretty strongly that the city needs to absolutely retain at least one of those units if not more,” said City Councilor Leia Morrison of potential units provided for employees of the local government.
Willaford will work to assist city staff in defining and drafting key deal terms, timelines and expectations for city leaders as well as the roles and responsibilities of Stock. She’ll also support negotiations with development partners and provide analysis and recommendations for appropriate unit mix, deed restrictions, land-transfer logistics and other consultation for the project.
The public will be invited to participate in the project’s planning process as it evolves.
Taryn Mead, a board member for Seasons Schoolhouse, also voiced her support for Stock, who has offered to possibly locate a future child care center on the property.
“For us, we just really want this site, and we’re going to do what it takes to get that done,” said Mead.
Lazy K also is identified by the Parks and Recreation Master Plan as being within an area “underserved” by accessible recreation amenities.
However, a Great Outdoors Colorado grant the city applied for to fund a park on Lazy K was not awarded, leaving leaders looking elsewhere for funds until the next application deadlines arrives in November.
(Kate Gienapp can be reached at 970.641.1414 or firstname.lastname@example.org.)