A proposed four-story building near East Second Avenue and College Drive has neighbors worried it will tower over existing homes. But the developer contends it is simply the first step in redevelopment likely to happen along the block.
The proposed 12,742-square-foot building is expected to house a retail space, two offices and three residential units, according to city planning documents. The approximately 50-foot-tall building could replace a single-family house on a 7,500-square-foot lot, documents said.
The building is proposed to be built to lot lines on the south, west and north sides in the same way buildings along Main Avenue are built directly adjacent to the sidewalk. A parking garage could go in behind the building.
The plan for the new building fits the central business zoning the city established for the block, but some neighbors and Durango Planning Commission board members expressed concern Monday it doesn’t fit, in part, because it could be built mid-block.
“It’s too big, in the wrong place, at the wrong time. ... It just seems so monstrous,” said Barbara Wolfe, an adjacent property owner.
Other neighbors expressed concern the building will block views, sunshine and encroach on privacy because the upper windows of the building will look down on their properties.
Developer Tracy Reynolds said his building meets city codes, does not require a variance and is part of a movement toward redevelopment in the area.
“It is an ideal location for dense mixed lots,” he said.
Planning commissioners appeared stumped by the project during the hearing, expressing unease about the building’s size, but not identifying clear grounds in the code to deny it because it does not require a variance.
After extensive discussion, the commission voted unanimously to continue the project and directed Reynolds to work with his neighbors on agreements that would allow him to be on their property during construction and maintenance of the building.
City staff had recommended the commission deny the project because Reynolds does not have agreements in place with the neighbors to be on their property during construction and maintenance.
Reynolds said he could construct the building and complete maintenance without trespassing. He also said he had attempted to work with his neighbors since July, but his efforts to reach agreements had not been fruitful.
Planning Commission Chairman Joe Lewandowski expressed doubt additional time to reach agreements would help.
“I hate to string people along on either side for false hope,” he said.
City code allows for a 55-foot height limit in the area and seemingly directs developers to build out to property lines.
“The zoning was placed this way to basically change the neighborhood. I am not saying that’s right; I am saying that’s the facts,” Lewandowski said.
Amaya Natural Therapeutics owner Don Lewis said he is concerned about the negative impact the building would have on his business and larger change it represents in town.
“This is essentially gentrification at its core,” he said.