A 20-unit apartment complex will be ready for lease this fall at the corner of Florida Road and North College Drive, and it’s expected to draw college students.
Foundation is laid and framing is underway on 1304 Apartments, which will include two three-story, walk-up buildings on the one-acre corner parcel. Two studios, two one-bedroom apartments and 16 four-bedroom suites, each about 1,300 square feet, will be built in one phase and completed around Aug. 1.
The project broke ground in September.
“I think this product type lends itself to the student population and will go a long way toward helping with the affordable housing issues in the city of Durango,” developer and architect Steve Eccher said.
“Being a rental product, it doesn’t present an opportunity for the first-time home buyer, but it does absorb a significant number of students that would otherwise live in a home on the avenues. That seems like a typical scenario with four, five students living in a house, and this allows those students to move into something a little more oriented for them.”
The original concept was to provide market-rate rental housing not unlike the Confluence dwellings at Three Springs, but when the city reviewed the project, the designs did not achieve maximum density. That led to the four-bedroom model for most units, which, factoring in the short commute to Fort Lewis College, Eccher suspects will attract groups of college students wanting to room together off-campus.
Eccher said about a half-dozen interested tenants have been placed on an applicant list.
Four-bedroom units will rent for about $2,500 a month, which means four students sharing a suite would pay about $625 each. Each bedroom will have a private bath.
Studios and one-bedrooms likely will be priced around $700.
“We see those as being able to retain tenants,” Eccher said. “If we have someone renting a four-bed, and at the end of the lease, they decide they like the location but want to graduate from having roommates, this gives them that opportunity.”
The complex is the first major rental development in the Durango area since Lumien Apartments opened at 32nd Street and East Animas Village Drive in fall 2015 and the Confluence at Three Springs opened last summer.
Eccher said his work on the Lumien Apartments showed him the overwhelming demand for rental housing. But because the development was a tax-credit housing project, Lumien tenants must qualify for low-income housing. Eccher wanted the new apartment complex to be open to the general rental market.
The dwellings will be close to a Durango Transit bus stop and offer outside gathering spaces, parking and bike storage. All apartments will have walk-in closets and washer and dryer units, and most will have exterior decks or walk-outs.
“We see this as a transitional apartment rental opportunity, not dedicated fully for students, but kind of our target audience, obviously, because of the location and proximity to campus,” Eccher said. “This is convenient, absorbs some demand, and they’re affordable.”
Affordable is a description rarely heard by Durango’s students.
“The hardest thing is finding someplace affordable without packing people into the house,” said Shay Calhoun, a sophomore at Fort Lewis College, who admitted finding a place to live gave her “a lot of grief” last summer. “And a lot of home owners don’t want college kids living in their houses, which is understandable for a lot of reasons. But often they want you to have one or two years’ experience before they let you move in. But some students don’t have that because they just moved from home, and you have to live on campus the first year anyway.”
Jackie Strom, also a sophomore, compared the expense of living in Durango, where she rents a $1,950 three-bedroom unit, to the $1,500 five-bedroom she left in Phoenix.
Both Calhoun and Strom said the 1304 Apartment complex is a needed addition to Durango. And the proposed $625 per-room rate, they said, is still “pricey” but doable.