Public sentiment regarding the 1890 Homestead Project remains mixed

The 1890 Homestead, where a proposed 500 apartment units are to be built through the 1890 Homestead Project. The nearest portion of land represents Phase 1 of the project — multi-family units.

Residents of the Cobble Creek and Spruce Point communities aren’t holding back their thoughts on the proposed 1890 Homestead Project, a three-phase multi-family housing development, led by developer Matt Miles, founder and owner of Leadership Circle LLC, a real estate development company. Members of the two communities met with Miles on Sept. 21 regarding the future of the 1890 Homestead, land Miles purchased two years ago.

The location of the project, a 32-acre property across from the Spruce Point subdivision and at the corner of 6450 Road and Cobble Drive, has already undergone planning, zoning and annexation requirements, with the latter approved during a Montrose City Council meeting in June 2018. The property, zoned R-3A — a Medium High Density District, intended to provide single-family homes, duplexes and multifamily residences, according to Code of Ordinances for the City of Montrose — has a proposed plan of 500 apartment units to be developed in the area, with 160 units (both one and two-story options), non-subsidized, in Phase 1. The third phase would develop age-restricted units, although due to the pandemic, that portion of the project is undergoing further review.

A healthy share of Cobble Creek and Spruce Point residents, who shared their thoughts with Miles and have since flocked to social media, have some concerns with the project. A petition, started by HOA members in Cobble Creek and Spruce Point, has since gained traction.

Community members, including Spruce Point homeowner Don Peterson, are worried the influx of residents to the area will increase traffic congestion, limit access to primary roads and decrease general attractiveness of the area.

“Why here?” said Peterson, a 15-year member of the Spruce Point community. “It doesn’t seem like the way the city should plan things. There are plenty of places the apartments can go.”

Peterson’s chief concern (as well as that of many other residents) remains the potential for increased traffic, particularly the route from Chipeta Road onto Highway 550, which residents say is “busy enough.” (According to a 2018 press release from the City of Montrose, the Colorado Department of Transportation updated city councilors regarding safety improvements and growth along the Highway 550 corridor, with design plans to mitigate traffic issues a central topic. CDOT, at the time, said safety measures can only advance when funding is allocated for such a project, though its possible an increase in traffic in the intersection would move the needle for CDOT.)

Also, the main entrance to the multi-family Phase 1 units, which will be placed right off Cobble Drive, presents traffic concerns for people in the community as residents filter in and out of the area.

“I also think that traffic on Chipeta Road — we’re all coming out of the same point to get to all the roads, the highway, the town,” Peterson said. “There are lots of roads coming into Chipeta right now. ... I can’t see how that will work very well.”

Also, Peterson expressed concern with the project’s impact on surrounding housing developments in the area, which could potentially lower the value of real estate and property values for homeowners in Cobble Creek and Spruce Point.

Miles, however, says Montrose is in dire need of affordable housing options.

“When COVID-19 hit, and the incredible need for housing became evident, it was clear it was time to build apartments,” he told the Montrose Daily Press on Tuesday. Regarding traffic concerns, Miles said the traffic problem in Montrose isn’t that of other areas, though a few locations in Montrose, including 12th Street and Niagara, feature much busier traffic congestion compared to Chipeta Road, and are “not conducive to the level of quality I’m trying to build.”

However, Miles added, 1890 Homestead provides strong infrastructure, proximity to Telluride and retail in south Montrose, and a “nice area” where the character of the neighborhood will match that of Cobble Creek and Spruce Point.

“We’re going to provide housing options for people in the community, which will lessen pressure on other housing types,” Miles said, “... I’m trying to build an attractive apartment community that is desirable for people to live there.”

The project, with the first two phases featuring no age-restrictions, can provide housing to the workforce community (nurses, teachers, fire fighters) in Montrose and Telluride, Miles said. The units will rent at market rate, which Miles estimates will begin at $1,200 for two-bedroom units and $1,050 for one-bedroom units, though figures could fluctuate if the market changes once units are available for lease. Over half of the 160 units will feature garages, reducing on-street parking.

Additionally, project development includes the construction of a swimming pool, community business center, weight room, walking trails, a dog park and other additional amenities in Phase 1.

The project, though with detractors, has its share of supporters. Some took to social media to support the plan, citing the need in Montrose for affordable housing.

Miles also has the support of Montrose City Manager Bill Bell, who during a city council work session on Aug. 31 said a household community survey from 2016 revealed that one of the highest priorities, according to community input, was the need for multi-family housing in the form of rental apartment complexes.

According to a memo from Bell to the city council regarding the project, Phase 1 “will bring a total investment of $36.4 million to the community and fill an urgent need for workforce housing in the area.”

City council, during the work session, was asked to consider fee waivers (incentives) to aid in the development of the project, which include city construction sales tax, permit and plan check fees and water and sewer infrastructure. The fee waivers would save bottom-line dollars for Miles, who could then instead funnel those funds into the project.

During the end of the discussion for the project, city council members expressed appreciation and excitement for 1890 Homestead, also mentioning the need for affordable housing in the community.

The incentives total more than $2.34 million, which councilors will consider at a future meeting.

Miles said he understands the concerns of residents in the area and doesn’t mind the opposition, though he’s confident the project will provide desirable, affordable housing options for Montrose residents, and people who relocate to the city.

“I have all the confidence in the world this is going to fit the character of the neighborhood, and we’ll keep it nice because I live here [in Montrose],” Miles said.

The 1890 Homestead Project is Miles’ latest venture to provide additional housing in Montrose. Miles has developed home sites in Bear Creek, Cimarron Creek, English Gardens 4, and Ravens Crest, among others.

The project is expected to be presented to the Montrose City Planning Commission in October, with suggestions provided to city council thereafter. Residents say they plan to make their concerns known to the planning commission when public testimony is available.

The project is tentatively set to start physical construction on March 1, 2021.

Josue Perez is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press

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