Grove gets the go-ahead

 Uncategorized
Aug 242011
 
Authors: Jason Pohl

Proponents of the new student housing project won a contentious battle Tuesday night in what has turned into a multifaceted debate among students, community members and a development group.

After nearly seven hours of discussion, the Fort Collins City Council voted to uphold the planning and zoning board’s decision to allow the Grove –– operated by Campus Crest Communities –– to move into Fort Collins.

“I really hope the projects are taken seriously,” said Chase Eckerdt, ASCSU’s director of Government Affairs after Tuesday’s meeting. “As more developers look at Fort Collins, they can look at this as a model.”

Campus Crest is based in North Carolina and operates housing projects around the country, including one in Greeley. The proposal for the Fort Collins project includes 612 beds and an entire community atmosphere in an area less than one mile south of the CSU campus.

Council members voted to uphold the previous decisions regarding how the land be used, known as the Overall Development Plan, or ODP. Additionally, they voted unanimously to support the project with two modifications –– no pets and stricter environmental construction standards.

“This project is green, affordable and close to CSU,” Eckerdt said. “That is why I have been incredibly supportive of this project.”

The 12-building project will meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, standards. Additionally, it will have to meet the city’s updated green building codes, which require sustainable construction and water and energy efficiency.

Supporters of the project have maintained since the process began more than a year ago that the project is exactly what the Fort Collins community and CSU campus need, citing the importance for increased student housing as enrollment rates increase.

Council members were hesitant on some of the specific issues and questioned city staff and the developer. Overall, they voted in support of the project with the slight changes discussed throughout the evening.

“I think it sets a high bar for city standards with regards for multi-family units,” Council Member Wade Troxell said to the Collegian after the Grove was approved. “I think projects like these are important for Fort Collins. It is important for CSU students to have quality housing close to campus.”

The project has met fierce opposition from community members. Residents have raised concerns regarding the location within the flood plain, parking, street redirection, wildlife impact and the overall size of the project.

Everything down to the specific aesthetic concerns including siding, architecture and vegetation were discussed at length during the meeting.

“We are not against student housing,” said Attorney Rick Zier, a representative of the opposition Tuesday night. “This project is too large for this complicated and constrained site.”
Zier was not available for interview after the meeting.

The land is owned by the Colorado State University Research Foundation, or CSURF, and has been intended for student housing for years.

In what Mayor Weitkunat referred to as “the tip of the iceberg” for the future of Fort Collins, the project was approved unanimously with the aforementioned provisions, bringing some closure to what has been a seemingly endless debate.

“Now we have a community-wide dialogue.” Eckerdt said. “We now have a model that fits the mold. That’s a good thing.”

Senior Reporter Jason Pohl can be reached at news@collegian.com.

About the Grove

  • 612 bed housing project
  • Up to 4-bedroom units
  • 12, 3-story buildings including a clubhouse
  • Pool, outdoor fire place, volleyball courts
  • Location: less than 1 mile south of CSU, along Centre Avenue
  • More information, visit www.gogrove.com/
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