A packed room of about 50 people gathered in a meeting room at Englewood Recreation Center on Aug. 10 for a neighborhood meeting with the developers of the proposed 395-unit residential complex near …
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A packed room of about 50 people gathered at Englewood Recreation Center on Aug. 10 for a neighborhood meeting with the developers of the proposed 395-unit residential complex near West Oxford Avenue and South Navajo Street.
Embrey Partners, a real estate investment company that has built more than 10 properties in Colorado, aims to develop 361 multifamily units and 34 townhomes on a 8.4-acre lot that is currently home to businesses like Sam’s Automotive Reconditioning Center.
The development team offered a presentation updating residents about the development’s current plans and progress, and answered questions about density, traffic, cost and construction.
Jimmy McCloskey, the executive vice president of development at Embrey Partners, said the plans for this development began about a year ago.
“We were approached that the landowners in these and this particular parcels were interested in selling. I know some have been in business there for a long time and had been active members of the community,” he said, noting brokers approached the company.
“And so as the overlay happened with the city, it became available for developers like myself to come in and to look for opportunities to put the higher density here,” he said.
Embrey Partners does property management, development and construction, and also has an investment arm, McCloskey said.
“We look for areas that are close to freeways, close to rail, and high-density locations. We’re long-term holders, so we move in and we develop a project, and we stick around for a while because we manage those projects,” he said.
McCloskey said the company would hold on to the property for at least seven to 10 years, and Embrey Partners is not part of other nearby developments, such as the five-story 4201 South Navajo Apartments.
Originally, the developers proposed building two four-story multi-family buildings, amounting to about 550 units. However, after receiving community input, the proposal changed to building one four-story multi-family building containing 361 units and 34 three-story townhomes.
Units will range in size from about 500 square feet to about 2,000 square feet in the townhomes, McCloskey said.
“They’re all rental,” said Marcus Pachner, president of The Pachner Company, which handles community engagement for the development. “We are a market rate project, so we do not have any affordable housing planned at this development.”
McCloskey said the rent premium varies, but it will range from about $1,500 to $1,800 a month, up to about $3,800 to $4,000 for the townhomes, which raised concerns for some residents in the room.
“There’s a reason why, you know, the rents are what they are. We provide a lot of amenities,” McCloskey said. Some amenities include a pool, amenity courtyard and greenery throughout the property.
Jeremy Lott — a member of Norris Design, which is part of the development’s design team — said Englewood’s “Light Rail Corridor Plan,” approved in 2013 as a 20-year redevelopment vision, labels the proposed development property as part of “Oxford City Neighborhood South.”
According to the plan, this area would be characterized as new high-density housing.
“It encourages redevelopment of existing industrial uses as multifamily apartments and condominiums, and it calls out a four-story minimum,” Lott said, highlighting one of the plan’s recommendations.
In the plan, the area’s development summary states there should be a minimum density of 15 dwelling units per acre and a maximum of 75 dwelling units per acre, with the housing types being townhomes, apartments and condos. The current development’s proposed density is 46.9 units per acre.
“We are following very clear guidance about what should be here, and actually, we are going below-density of the guidance that’s here,” Pachner said.
The development team also pointed out that the Englewood Comprehensive Plan, which city council adopted in 2017 and aims to establish a vision for Englewood development, labels the property as being part of the “Oxford Station Area,” which is meant to have high-density residential development in it.
Pachner said many cities in the metro Denver area have adopted similar guidance along their light rail corridors, which is why people are seeing a lot of multifamily units in those areas.
“This is a very high-density corridor. So I’m not trying to convince you of whether or not that’s right, that’s just what’s on the code today,” Pachner said. “So what they evaluate, when we go to the city council, is they evaluate: Are we conforming to the comp [comprehensive] plan?”
Embrey Partners would need a rezoning of the area to go ahead with its plans. Currently, the lot that Embrey Partners wants to develop has I-1 zoning, representing a light industrial zone district.
Under the existing I-1 industrial zoning, a range of developments are permitted, such as a tower structure for a telecommunication facility, an office building, a hotel, a warehousing or storage facility and an RTD maintenance facility, according to the city’s Code of Ordinances.
Also listed in the Code of Ordinances is a table summarizing the dimensional requirements for principal structures, which shows there are no maximum height restrictions for structures in I-1 zoning.
“There is no height limit under the existing industrial zoning. There is no lot maximum coverage,” Lott said. “You could build almost 720,000 square feet of building on this property based on the square footage of the lot.”
A multi-unit dwelling, however, has height restrictions ranging from 32 feet to 100 feet, depending on the type of zoning and lot, and the Embrey Partners plan calls for the tallest structure to be four stories.
Multi-unit dwellings are not permitted in industrial zoning districts. To be able to develop the proposed townhome and multi-family housing complex, the developers have to submit a planned unit development application to facilitate a rezoning of the property.
The planned unit development application will be reviewed by the planning and zoning commission, which will then offer a recommendation to city council. City council has the authority to approve or deny the application.
The development team said it expects to present to the Planning and Zoning Commission and Englewood City Council this fall. Both of these meetings will have public hearings, during which residents can voice their opinions on the project.
Currently, the development plan has four entrances to the property. There are three “full movement” entrances, meaning drivers can enter and exit the property in any direction, with one entrance along West Quincy Avenue and the other two located on South Navajo Street. There is also a “right in, right out” entrance along West Oxford Avenue.
Some residents at the meeting expressed concern about the full movement entrance along West Quincy Avenue, given the amount of traffic on the road and the speeding they have seen.
“I know this feels counterintuitive, but the thing you may want more than anything is this access point. Actually turning in and out of that, and slowing traffic, is probably the most important thing you can do,” Pachner said. “So segmenting traffic is actually how you break the flow.”
Meeting attendees pointed out that when people are turning into the property lot, they will stop the traffic behind.
“I’m not disagreeing with you. I think, again, it paces that,” Pachner said, noting he ask the city about the West Quincy Avenue entrance as well.
Mike Kibbee, the traffic transportation consultant for the development, said the development team did a preliminary traffic study to check the capacity for the roadways in the area as well as a final traffic study based on the final site plan, which he said is currently in the review process with the city.
According to the project plan, the developers also plan to do right-of-way improvements, including a dedication on West Oxford Avenue for a new eastbound through lane, a protected turn when heading north on South Navajo Street and turning left on Oxford, new street lighting and sidewalk on Navajo, and improvements to landscaping, crosswalks and bus stops.
Pachner said the development team is planning to offer more parking spaces than required, proposing building 645 parking spots compared to the required 592 spots. The multi-family building will have a completely concealed parking garage, and the townhomes will self-park.
McCloskey said the company takes parking very seriously and often will “over-park” a development project to ensure residents have enough parking. He said parking stalls are expensive and can cost $15,000 to $20,000 per stall in a parking garage.
“It is on a light rail line, and we do think that really changes who lives here, how it flows and all of that, but we still are over-parking it,” Pachner said.
The development team will be funding “a very significant portion” of the Oxford Avenue Pedestrian Bridge, a City of Englewood project that would create a bridge across West Oxford Avenue between South Santa Fe and South Navajo Street, improving pedestrian and bicycle access to the RTD Light Rail Station, Pachner said.
One resident who lives adjacent to the proposed development asked about noise mitigation and if any sound barriers would be put in place during construction.
McCloskey said the property would be a construction zone for about 18 to 24 months, and it would be busy for the first six to 12 months but should be quiet after that. He said the company’s former developments have not put up sound barriers.
The development proposes incorporating 35-foot and 50-foot setbacks in the property, as well as a 7-foot privacy fence with masonry columns across the back way of the property, Pachner said.
He said the development will not raise the grade of the property, and the drainage will be underground, with the retention area located under the amenity courtyard area. Pachner said the development team still needs to work through its snow removal plan.
When asked about security on the property, Pachner said the developer would be in charge of security.
One attendee said he thinks the site is well-designed and the property makes sense from the density perspective and what transit-oriented densities call for.
Following the meeting, Englewood resident Sara Leatherwood stood outside the recreation center and passed out flyers with the text, “Neighborhood Update: Radcliff/Quincy Proposed Unity Developments.”
Leatherwood said she and a few other residents formed a neighborhood group to raise awareness about the proposed Oxford and Navajo residential complex, as well as a development called the “Radcliff Apartments.”
She said the group aims to make sure people have all the information about the developments, as sometimes the information is not as accessible.
“We just really wanted to create something where we could increase communication just among neighbors,” Leatherwood said. “We just want to be able to support people in voicing their opinion.”
In her personal opinion, which she said does not reflect the neighborhood group, some of her biggest concerns about the proposed development are traffic and density in the area. She also said the high rent is a concern, as she does not think many Englewood residents could afford such rates.
Another issue is how the developments will impact nearby residents, such as taking away more open views and reducing the privacy a property has, given the proximity of a taller building.
Leatherwood said she appreciates the developers have modified their plans, and that she understands the growth. She said she is not sure what the happy medium is between what residents like herself want and what the developers want.
“I’m trying to think of, like, what is going to benefit this community long-term, and ways of supporting the people within this vicinity that live here and use these facilities,” Leatherwood said. “What would benefit the folks that live in these houses? What do we need to become a better community to support the people that are already here, and grow and develop?”
Those interested in learning more about the neighborhood group can email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Residents interested in learning more about the proposed development can contact Pachner by emailing email@example.com.
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