On Sept. 30, the Downtown Review Board unanimously approved downtown's biggest proposed apartment complex, the Elan Pikes Peak project. Members said that the six-story, 321-unit development will contribute to the city's goal of providing desirable housing at the urban core of Colorado Springs.
“The number of units will greatly help to get vibrancy downtown, especially on Pikes Peak Avenue,” said Len Kendall, Director of Planning and Mobility at Downtown Partnership of Colorado Springs. He stated his support, but highlighted the importance of developing public transportation to accommodate the needs of a growing downtown population.
The apartment complex will be built on almost 2.5 acres on the block between East Pikes Peak Avenue and Wahsatch Avenue, which is currently occupied by a bank and Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4051. It will include a 359-spot parking structure on the basement and ground level.
The apartment complex will also offer its residents a pool, substantial outdoor recreation space, a dog park and a fitness facility.
The property is zoned as a transition area, which limits buildings to four stories, but because the project includes alley improvements, market-rate housing units, high-efficiency water fixtures, underground parking and bike storage, it qualified for density bonuses under section 3 of the city code, which will allow for two extra stories.
Greystar Development Central LLC, an international rental housing company, is developing the project and will construct and manage it as well.
Planning Commission representative Jim Raughton voiced concern at the meeting about the development's lack of contribution to affordable housing. Though legally forced to accept Section 8 housing vouchers, the developer said in the meeting that it expects to rent all units at market value.
Raughton suggested that the board consider a percentage of units in future developments be set aside for affordable housing.
No citizens contributed during the public comment period, but Matthew Driftmier, owner of an adjacent property, wrote in an email, “I am thrilled at the prospect of turning an effectively dead corner of our bustling Downtown into something more productive.”
But, Driftmier added, treating the “project like a suburban development” by adding parking spaces instead of business space to the lower levels is contributing to an auto-focused city. “By building single-use structures and creating car-centered environments, it becomes impossible to have truly livable spaces,” he wrote.
If any appeals to the Elan Pikes Peak project are filed, the city council will discuss within 21 days.