New businesses and condominiums will replace the former Kangaroo Express building at College Drive and East Eighth Avenue.
The Durango Planning Commission unanimously approved a new three-story building Monday that Reynolds, Ash and Associates is planning to build on the well-traveled corridor. The commission’s vote was the final public approval for the project, which does not have to go before Durango City Council.
Construction on the Eastside Lofts, expected to have eight condominiums and four commercial spaces, could start in spring and take about 10 months to finish, said Tracy Reynolds, an owner of Reynolds, Ash and Associates.
As a condition of approval, the commission restricted to two the number of condos that can be turned into vacation rentals.
Commissioner Geoff Hickcox said he would like to see all condos occupied by full-time residents.
“I am very conscious of the housing shortage in town,” Hickcox said.
The condos are expected to be an average of 800 square feet to help keep prices down, Reynolds said. But he declined to say what the price points would be for the new housing units.
“I like that these are small properties. I think it fills a niche that is really important,” Hickcox said.
A few neighbors voiced concerns about traffic, inadequate parking and the allowance of some condos to be converted into vacation rentals. But they supported the project in general.
“I think this will be a vast improvement on what we currently have there,” College Drive resident Sandy Burke said.
But she was concerned the 22 parking spaces designed to occupy part of the ground floor would not be adequate, especially if a restaurant opened in the building.
Reynolds, who is planning to build office space, said he is talking with a dentist and an accountant about moving in.
Speaking on behalf of his grandmother, Ryne Wagoner said he was concerned about residents and customers using Ninth Avenue, an alley, to access the building, because traffic is already congested.
“I think it’s just hitting a critical threshold,” he said.
He asked for the project to be tabled until the city completed a traffic study.
The city didn’t require the developer to complete a traffic study, said Planner Mark Williams.
However, the site is expected to be safer after development because Reynolds’ company is required to put in curb and gutter around the property and limit traffic access.
Limited access will improve safety because the site doesn’t have a curb along College Drive or East Eighth Avenue, Williams said.
In addition to approving the project, the commission approved a few variances, allowing the building to be slightly taller and closer to the streets than allowed by city code.
Allowing the building to be closer to College Drive and East Eighth Avenue will provide a greater buffer between the new building and the neighbors, Reynolds said.
The commission also required the new project to have a bear-proof dumpster.