STEVE LEWIS/Durango Herald
Homesites at Twin Buttes may not officially be for sale yet, but they’re garnering plenty of interest as the housing market continues to improve and local inventory gets eaten up.
The sites can be reserved for $5,000 but won’t close until 2014 after developers turn in a final plat to the city and get it approved. Sites in West Meadows, phase one of the large development west of downtown Durango, are currently available, and 25 of the 89 sites have been reserved thus far by homebuyers known as the “founders group.”
The group is composed of the first 50 people to reserve homes, and they are primarily people who have been following the development since it was first approved in 2008, said Nicole Perino, a broker for the Wells Group.
Jeryl Cundiff, a member of the founders group, said, “The community aspect is really exciting. I can walk to my neighbor’s house and visit. I’m just so excited.”
Home construction is expected to begin next spring when the snow melts and the final plans are approved by the city, said Marc Snider, spokesman for the development. Buyers can then break ground whenever they want and choose a builder.
Cundiff plans on being one of the first to break ground if she is able to sell her current home, which she is planning on putting on the market in May.
The local real estate market has been steadily improving, and this year brokers anticipate inventory in La Plata County to decrease to its lowest rate in five or six years.
The area is in need of builders, but once construction companies come back to the area, brokers expect Twin Buttes, Three Springs and Edgemont will be the subdivisions with the most potential for growth in Durango city limits.
The Twin Buttes development, located off U.S. Highway 160, will be built in three phases on 150 acres and include amenities such as a garden, community center and trail system.
The City Council gave final approval to the first part of the development in 2011 after 290 acres of open space was donated by the landowners to the city for parks use. If and when the project is complete, it will house about 600 housing units, 75 accessory dwelling units and 140,000 square feet of commercial and civic space.
The sites currently being reserved are for single-family residential homes, but the development will also build townhomes and commercial buildings. While the site boundaries are set, they vary by size and range from 6,000 square feet to a half-acre for $120,000 to $180,000.
Cundiff has reserved one of the biggest lots and plans to build a 1,800-square-foot home on the property.
Another member of the founders group, Tom Harris, reserved two adjoining lots. Buyers outside the group may not have the option of purchasing adjoining lots, Snider said.
The Wells Group started listing the properties earlier this month and has received interest from renters looking to buy a home, current homeowners wanting an upgrade and people looking to move to the area, Perino said.
The Twin Buttes Open Space and Trail System opened last September and includes 580 acres of public open space and 10 miles of natural surface trails constructed by Trails 2000. An informal trailhead and dirt parking lot is located west of the Giant gas station, 20453 U.S. Highway 160, but the trailhead will move once homes are built.
The trail system should reopen in a few weeks.
The gardens also have been up and running, and now occupy 2 acres near the highway on the edge of the future development. The garden’s produce is sold to a half-dozen restaurants in Durango, including Zia Taqueria, Seasons Rotisserie & Grill and Fired Up Pizzeria, Snider said.
Twin Buttes plans to offer a community supported agriculture program this summer where people can pay an upfront fee and receive a weekly share of produce throughout the season.
The garden is also getting 40 chickens and 10 beehives in the next few weeks. The development has hired people to care for the gardens, but homeowners can volunteer to help tend them.
Cundiff is planning to taking advantage of that perk. She currently lives on a large property with a “big garden that is too big for me.”
Animas High School announced earlier this month it will move to two temporary 12,000-square-foot buildings in Twin Buttes this summer. The school’s board is trying to secure funding to construct a permanent building on the property.
The public charter school has outgrown its current home in a former strip mall on north Main Avenue. The school has 234 students this year but already has registered 304 for next year.