County approves apartment complex in Ken Caryl Business Center

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Nearby residents worry about negative impacts

By Vicky Gits

The county commissioners have approved a controversial plan to rezone a vacant 10-acre parcel for a 280-unit apartment complex in the Ken Caryl Business Center.

The 3-0 decision came on Aug. 28 after a sometimes emotional two-hour hearing where about 25 Ken Caryl Ranch and Sunset Ridge residents protested the proposed three-story building next door to an established neighborhood of 210 two-story townhomes and single-family homes built in the 1980s.

The Ken Caryl Business Center is southwest of South Kipling Parkway and West Chatfield Avenue.

Commissioner Don Rosier defended the decision, saying the original zoning would have created more traffic.

"We don't pick winners and losers. We leave it up to those who are building as they see fit. It's not up to us to say we need a restaurant here or there," Rosier said.

Rosier said he moved to South Jeffco in 1992 when it was a rural enclave and Coal Mine Avenue dead-ended at Ward Street, and he understands how it feels to be surrounded by burgeoning developments.

"Within in 1.5 miles (of Rosier’s home) is one of the largest liquor stores in Colorado and three mega-churches, Walmart and 110,00 square feet of retail. All this has happened since I moved in. It happened in my backyard, and I understand. Thing change. Things develop. If we want a guarantee, we better buy it."

Commissioners John Odom and Faye Griffin also approved the rezoning.

Residents pleaded with the commissioners either to postpone the decision or to leave in place the existing mixed-use zoning, which would have allowed up to 120 residential units above retail and restaurant uses.

The property owner came to the meeting with new concessions, which included reducing the number of units to 280 from 320 in one building and limiting the residential building height to 45 feet.


Conflicting lifestyles

Those in favor of the apartment development argued the project is compatible with the surrounding business park, which is 90 percent built out. But people who live in the townhomes and single-family homes argued that high density isn't compatible with the neighborhood.

Jeffco planner Alan Tiefenbach said the property has been designated as an activity center since 1988, which means it was intended for most-intense uses, including residential, commercial and light industrial.

At the hearing Aug. 28, speakers predicted that a complex of the proposed size would lead to overburdened schools, traffic congestion, reduced property values, increased vandalism, crime and diminished quality of life.

One 15-year resident said: "If this zoning is granted, the net effect will be the residential population in one quarter mile will double overnight. It's not a town center. It's a huge, commercial apartment complex."

"I have a problem with large apartment complexes that are out of character with the neighborhood. I bought my house because of what it is. Ken-Caryl is a tight community. (New) people will be transient and won't know each other. … We want the community to be what we bought into," said a Ken-Caryl resident.


Under contract

The current owners are under contract to sell the property to Embrey Partners Ltd. of San Antonio, Texas, said Dennis Carruth, manager of Ken-Caryl Towne Center LLC.

Embrey is a commercial and rental apartment developer, responsible for the Arvada Station complex, which has 378 units on 15 acres in eight buildings.

In 2010 the property was zoned for a combination development consisting of almost equal amounts of residential and commercial space in a mixed-use format.

But the concept of mixed-use in the suburban environment proved to be unmarketable, Carruth said in a previous meeting.

The new zoning also includes 2 acres for mixed-use commercial development with 60 units of residential on the west side of Shaffer Parkway.

Under the new official development plan, the builder is required to provide at least 600 square feet of recreation space per each 30 residential units, plus outdoor gathering spaces.

Other architectural restrictions call for materials that are compatible with the natural environment.


Contact Vicky Gits at vicky@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22.