304 apartments at Fort Collins’ southeastern gateway up for approval

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The second phase of development at Fort Collins’ southeastern gateway will get its next review by the city’s planning and zoning board on Thursday. 

Fort Collins developer J.D. Padilla will present his project development plan to build 304 apartments and an amenity center with pool southeast of the intersection of Harmony and Strauss Cabin roads, just west of the Interstate 25 interchange. 

The project, H-25 for now, is just to the east of The Wyatt apartments, 368 units also developed by Padilla. Both are part of Padilla’s larger overall development of 264 acres at I-25 and Harmony Road.

Earlier:Fort Collins OKs plan for gateway at I-25, Harmony, including natural space

A rendering of the main entrance on Strauss Cabin Road south of Harmony Road for a proposed 304 apartments being developed by Fort Collins developer J.D. Padilla.

Thursday’s hearing is a continuance of a Nov. 19 public hearing when the board raised concerns about the project’s entrances and varying building types. 

Under the city’s land use code, any development with more than five buildings must have three different building types and no similar buildings should be next to each other. The code also requires distinct entrances. 

The developer has since redesigned some of the elements to satisfy the city’s concerns, according to its application with the planning and zoning board. 

The 12 two- and three-story buildings, including clubhouse, are scattered throughout the 16-acre site and range from four units to 36 units. 

The site has had a lengthy and sometimes controversial history in Fort Collins as different plans have come and gone. It falls within the Harmony Corridor zone and the city’s plan for the Harmony gateway, both of which restrict certain land uses. 

The Harmony Gateway Plan sets the tone for future developments, bans drive-through restaurants and big-box stores larger than 50,000 square feet — common up and down the I-25 corridor — restricts building heights to three to five stories and “provides a degree of community separation” from Timnath.

Gateway plan:Fort Collins sets vision for Harmony, I-25 gateway area, requiring 40% open space

It also requires 40% of the area on the south side of Harmony Road to be an open, landscaped area with natural plans and land forms. 

The open space requirement caused some heartburn for Padilla who strenuously objected to setting aside 40% of his land and threatened to sue the city. 

The gateway plan, however, was adopted in June, four months after Padilla submitted his project development plan. That means Padilla’s plan for the apartments does not have to meet the new standards and the 40% open space requirement, said Fort Collins Senior Planner Meaghan Overton. 

Future phases of his overall plan, however, will have to meet the new standards, Overton said.

City staff is working with Padilla’s team to provide a river valley landscape design that includes cottonwoods, willows and evergreens, as called for in the gateway plan. 

Padilla’s 264 acres were annexed into the city in 2009 as part of Jay Stoner’s Riverwalk annexation and an overall development plan was approved in 2014. Two different plans stalled for the site before Padilla purchased the land. 

Because the site is so large, and some parts will be more difficult to develop due to floodplain issues, the overall development plan designated five distinct areas, two of which were designated for residential. 

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FEMA has removed the current site from the floodplain, making it suitable for building. 

The eastern part of the site, closest to I-25, is still in FEMA’s 100-year floodplain and Padilla is working on mitigation to remove it according to FEMA guidelines. 

The site will include a natural habitat buffer zone on the southern boundary that will be enhanced with native seed, wildflowers, trees, upland plantings and weed mitigation, according to plans. 

H-25 by the numbers

304: total units 

12: individual buildings 

166: one-bedroom units

126: two-bedroom units

12: three-bedroom units 

Learn more

Fort Collins’ planning and zoning board will meet virtually at 6 p.m. Jan. 21. No one will be allowed to attend in person. To view the full plans and for instructions on how to participate in the meeting online, visit www.fcgov.com/cityclerk/planning-zoning.php.

Pat Ferrier is a senior reporter covering business, health care and growth issues in Northern Colorado. Contact her at patferrier@coloradoan.com. Please support her work and that of other Coloradoan journalists by purchasing a subscription today.