The Boker Lumber site on College Drive could see an end to an ever-evolving stream of proposals and controversy later this year. Townhome construction on the site is likely to start after the future of a challenging section of the site is determined.
Over the years, several housing projects have been proposed for the parcel at 960 E. College Drive, and the number of units has declined with every design. In 2011, Collegiate Partners proposed an 80-unit apartment complex; now 18 units are planned.
Immediately after Durango City Council approved the most recent proposed project in early June, the future of the construction was in doubt because the council did not reserve the rights of the landowner, Steve Cadwallader, to build on a piece of property overlooking the former lumber site.
On the east side of the parcel there is a steep hillside and a relatively flat bench area above it, which Cadwallader wanted to develop someday.
But because he does not have the rights, Cadwallader said he is exploring other options that would allow the project to go forward. He said he may sell or donate the upper bench , but it is expected to remain open space, he said in an email.
Cadwallader may sell the property to Reynolds Ash and Associates, the architecture company that designed the townhome project, and it could end up as property of the homeowners association that will be formed on the site.
However, he is also in negotiations with four nonprofits that could maintain the area as open space.
“It could remain ‘open space’ while still having great value to the community if it’s utilized as a park, a trailhead, a bike path with access to Horse Gulch, etc. So that’s one way that we could ‘monetize’ the value of the land while still meeting the broader ‘community goal’ of keeping it open space,” he wrote in an email.
The property could also be sold to a neighboring property owner. Two of them have expressed interest, Cadwallader said.
Reynolds Ash and Associates plans to start construction with six units and build the project in phases over two years, said architect Tracy Reynolds.
One of the first steps will be to build a driveway on East Ninth Avenue that will be used by the heavy equipment needed for construction, he said.