A proposal to build 16 townhomes on Rosemary Lane off U.S. Highway 160 near downtown Durango was approved Monday by the city’s Planning Commission.
The three-story townhomes would consist of a two-car garage on the ground floor with living space primarily on the second and third floors.
The project includes a plan to reconstruct Rosemary Lane so it is straighter and wider. City staff said the new configuration would make the area safer for pedestrians and cyclists and improve eroding banks near Lightner Creek.
Developer Jake Lavin said he is prioritizing affordability and sustainability for the detached townhomes, nine of which would have studio living spaces attached that owners can rent to supplement their income.
“A lot of people don’t necessarily want to buy in Durango, they want to rent,” Commissioner Matt Payne said.
Because studio units would be rented instead of sold as separate living spaces, they do not qualify for Durango’s Fair Share Housing Program, which requires 16% of all new homeownership units to be affordable to the local workforce.
Without a requirement for owners to rent out those spaces, Commissioner Geoff Hickcox said that even if the commission approves the plan, there is no guarantee homeowners would use the space for renting.
City staff said alternative options for ensuring affordability would be outlined in the next City Council meeting in July, where a final project proposal will be reviewed for approval.
Lavin did not confirm a price for the homes but estimates they would cost $300 per square foot, falling between $540,000 and $640,000 depending on the size of the unit.
The location of the homes allows owners to bike and walk to jobs in town, encouraging a more sustainable lifestyle, Lavin said.
The proposal includes roofs with sufficient space for solar panels, and the homes would run on electricity only.
“Our society requires that at this point,” Lavin said.
But Commissioner Jason Cross said electricity might not be the most efficient way to heat homes.
“I think it could be more efficient,” Cross said of the plan proposal. “It would be nice to have more quantifiable examples as opposed to just words.”
A protected acre of open space on the banks of Lightner Creek will be preserved in the development, as well as a historic shed that was used by the railroad to store dynamite for nearby coal mines.
But construction of sewer pipes under the creek would be necessary to serve the housing units, Lavin said.
The developer and city staff distributed information about the proposal to nearby residents, including the two existing homes on Rosemary Lane, but did not hold a public meeting.
“The parcel is pretty isolated,” Dan Armentano, city staff member, said.
No public comments have been submitted.