The most recent plans to build homes on the Boker Lumber site on College Drive in Durango have been abandoned.
Numerous and controversial proposals to develop the site have come and gone, but the most-recent proposal for seven duplexes and four homes seemed most palatable to the neighborhood.
While Durango City Council approved development plans in June, the board did not reserve additional rights for the property owner to build on an upper portion of the site at 960 E. College Drive.
The homes would have been built on a flat area of the site accessible from College Drive. On the east side of the parcel, a steep hillside and a relatively flat bench above became a sticking point.
The decision not to develop the property turned on the disagreement over the upper bench, property owner Steve Cadwallader said in an email.
“The city and the planning department refused to allow any future development for the upper 4 acres of the site. We did not have any specific plans for that property, so we simply asked for the opportunity to submit one in the future if all city requirements could be met. The city’s answer was simply no. ... And they were not even willing to discuss it,” Cadwallader wrote.
Tracy Reynolds was prepared to start construction in September, but about a month before, Cadwallader told Reynolds he wanted to wait on the project and never signed the financial paperwork, Reynolds said.
It was Reynolds’ understanding at the time that Cadwallader had accepted he wouldn’t be able to develop the upper bench.
“He had finally given up on ever being able to do anything with that, and we were all ready to move forward,” he said.
The city restricted development on the upper portion of the site because it doesn’t have any road access or utilities, Reynolds said.
“He has always known that property is not developable,” Reynolds said.
Reynolds is suing Cadwallader to be reimbursed for work he did on the project before Cadwallader decided not to move forward.
Reynolds also withdrew the application to build the project from the city.
When asked about Reynolds’ side of the story, Cadwallader said in an email he did discuss other concerns with Reynolds, but reiterated that the development rights on the upper bench was the reason the project failed.
“Reynolds is a good man and did the best he could to bring this project together. But in the end, we just could not get it done,” he said.
Reynolds had planned to invest more than $9 million in the development to build the homes that would have had affordable price points, Cadwallader said in a statement.
Right now, Cadwallader has no other plans for the property.
“It’s a great piece of property, and it’s a great location. ... So someday, it will be a fantastic place for affordable housing. But that will take more time,” he said.
At the request of neighbors and the city, Cadwallader has taken down a rogue skate park on the property and put up fencing. Skaters poured concrete ramps and set up rails without permission on the site, and earlier this year, neighbors took concerns about the park to City Council.