Planning Board rejects latest proposal for Broadstone apartments

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By Ramsey Scott

Most Littleton Planning Board members and more than two dozen people at a board meeting on Aug. 26 still were not happy with a proposal for a scaled-down version of the controversial Broadstone at Littleton Station apartment development in downtown.

The Planning Board voted 6-1 to recommend that the proposal be denied by the City Council after listening to residents complain about the negative impact the development would have on their homes and neighborhoods. Board chairman Randy Duzan supported the proposal.

However, a handful of residents told the board that the proposed development on 4.5 acres at the southwest corner of South Bemis Street and West Littleton Boulevard was high quality and would be better than other potential uses for the land.

The project goes to the City Council for a final hearing at 7 p.m. Sept. 3. 

The current proposal calls for two buildings instead of one, along with retail space for a café, something that the city requested. The buildings would have a total of 225 apartments on four floors, and they would be set back 15 feet from Littleton Boulevard.

The proposal has been scaled back twice to meet city and resident concerns. In January, it was proposed to the city as a 350-unit, six-story building. The next proposal, which was denied 7-0 by the Planning Board in July, called for a one-building, five-story, 250-unit complex. It would have been set back 10 feet from Littleton Boulevard. 

On July 30, the day the proposal was to be heard by the City Council, the developer altered the plan to try to gain more public support. The council voted to send the proposal back to the Planning Board for review.

The six Planning Board members who voted against the project on Aug. 26 agreed the project was still too big for the area, despite the changes made by developer Alliance Residential Co.

“We have one shot at this. This is our Brigadoon property. At the end of Brigadoon, they’re all looking for a miracle,” said board member Andrew Graham. “We’re waiting for a miracle. The miracle is to be able to develop the quality of property you’ve proposed to us, and to do that in a way that you as business people can prosper, and develop a property there that’s so unique to our part of town, so unique to that property, that it’s a timeless gem that we’re proud of for the entire generation. “

The board continued to cite concerns about the apartment building’s size, especially because of its proximity to the city’s historic courthouse across the street.

Resident comments

Opponents who spoke during the Planning Board’s public hearing said that even the smaller project would negatively impact surrounding neighborhoods in the Sterne Park area southeast of downtown. The surrounding neighborhood is single-family homes, and many of the neighbors are worried about the impact on the character of the neighborhood and potential traffic problems.

However, one neighbor pointed out that the property’s current zoning would allow for businesses such as a drive-thru restaurant. He said that compared with the traffic and impact a large commercial business would have on the neighborhood, a 225-unit building was far more desirable.

Community Planning Director Glen Van Nimwegen said that with the current zoning, a developer could build about 370,000 square feet of commercial and residential space on the site. 

“There’s a lot more intensive development allowed with that B-2 zoning,” Van Nimwegen said. “There are a lot of unknowns with the redevelopment of the site under B-2. Quite frankly, there is no height limit.”

Contact Ramsey Scott at ramsey@evergreenco.com or 303-933-2233, ext. 22, and follow him on Twitter @RamseyColumbine.