MURA survey

The MURA survey shows the planned extensions for North 6th and 9th Streets and utility additions. 

City councilors voted unanimously during the May 4 regular meeting to approve $1,410,030 for the construction of public infrastructure associated with Phase II of the Montrose Urban Renewal Authority (MURA) housing project.

Public Works City Engineer Scott Murphy said the infrastructure project, associated with the Basecamp Apartments, is expected to break ground sometime next week depending on the contractor’s availability. Expenses also include dry utility expenditures for power and natural gas.

Construction for the public infrastructure phase of the project is expected to take approximately six months to complete, “barring COVID-related supply chain issues or weather setbacks” according to Murphy.

“The city elected to do the public infrastructure project as a part of a city project given the need for market-rate, workforce housing in our community,” said Murphy.

The city and MURA Board, in support of community housing needs and as a complement to the overall Colorado Outdoors plan of development, had entered into a development agreement with Range Development in the spring of 2020 to facilitate the construction of the Basecamp Apartments to be located at the southern end of Colorado Outdoors.

The second phase of the housing project includes the extension and relocation of utilities between North 6th Street and North 9th Street, as well as the extension of North 6th Street west of Grand Avenue. Utilities include water, power, gas and communications located where construction stopped at North 9th Street at the completion of the first phase of the project.

“There’s a sewer line that goes through the site that the Sewer Master Plan identified as needing upsizing in order to stay ahead of growth and development,” said Murphy. “So we’re upsizing and relocating this line to stay ahead of growth and development.”

Eventually this extension will loop back and tie into either future multi-family housing duplexes or single-family housing, said Murphy of the street extension.

The project is the first step for setting up future housing options in the area, according to Murphy.

The development side of the project is ready to begin, said Kurt Soukup of Range Development, who invested $16 million into the construction project along with about $4 million in the public infrastructure.

“Our side is set to designate our infrastructure component to a subcontractor,” said Soukup of the development plans.

“We have a significant number of [local] people who will be working on the project.”

Soukup said that due to the “significant” demand higher than the amount of units they plan to develop, they are considering placing more units in the future.

“We’re thrilled to be here, we’re ready to get started and we’re funded. I think we’re going to put out a great product for the community,” said Soukup.

“I’m thrilled the community and city is interested in helping with the infrastructure part of the project so we can provide rational housing prices.”

The private project will include four apartment buildings located on a central lot on the Basecamp development site, as well as a parking lot.

The overall project plans to protect the forest areas, wetlands and greenway belt that runs through the middle of the development area and will include a walking trail along these areas.

According to city plans, the improvements in the public infrastructure phase will also protect the area against fire flows-the amount of water necessary for providing fire protection at selected locations throughout a community.

The city plans to extend the mainline utilities that stopped at North 9th Street in the first phase of the project by connecting them back through to Grand Avenue.

Murphy said that with the North 6th Street extension, the plans include extending it as a temporary cul-de-sac for turnarounds.

“It also has a trail connection. If pedestrians walk down there, they can walk through to the Connect Trail,” said Murphy.

As development continues in the area, the roads will interconnect and the trails will become more formally interconnected.

Trailhead parking will be available at the North 9th Street location.

“The intent will be ‘turn around only’ at North 6th Street and formal parking at North 9th Street,” said Murphy.

While the project is currently $1 million under budget, Murphy brought up a possible change in the budget due to foundation changes on the development side. The city originally anticipated excess soil becoming available for use from below the apartment site’s buildings. Their intent was to use the soil to build an embankment for North 6th Street.

The change is foundation design reduces the overall cost of the project, but Murphy will have to look at importing more soil.

Public Works considered using excess soil from other Urban Renewal Authority (URA) projects to cut costs, but the waste soil is already accounted for in filling ditches or general site fills in other locations, according to Murphy.

“The budget has a 10 percent contingency and should cover that expense, but if it doesn’t, we may return for a small change order,” said Murphy of the budget change. The contingency plan consists of $100,000.

“There’s probably a less than 50 percent chance it would come to that and if it did, it would be relatively small-like $50,000.”

The city plans to keep their costs with Del-Mont Consulting low by using them primarily for surveying consults. With this plan and the hourly consultation charge, Murphy projects the ceiling cost in the budget to be cut in half.

Murphy said developers expected to complete the 96-unit housing project “well before” the December 31, 2023 deadline.

Cassie Knust is a staff writer for the Montrose Daily Press.

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