Hundreds of new homes and a commercial development soon will occupy more than 1,000 acres of rolling hills west of Interstate 25, just off Baptist Road.

Forest Lakes, an El Paso County subdivision that was on hold while the economy recovered, will eventually have about 475 homes on 867 acres, nestled next to the Pikes Peak National Forest, with lots ranging from 5,500 square feet to five-acre estate parcels. The commercial development will cover an additional 275 acres, while the developers are leaving 450 acres for open space. The first step in the development involves 33 estate-sized lots ranging from one to five acres. Those lots will be available later this year, priced from $125,000 to $300,000.

Developed by Steve Schuck of the Schuck Corp., Forest Lakes was shelved because of the Great Recession but had already successfully weathered the county development review process.

The Forest Lakes LLC team of Classic Homes and investors purchased the platted land Aug. 7, said Classic CEO Doug Stimple. They did not reveal the cost of the property, and El Paso County tax assessor records were not updated as of this week to reflect the ownership change.

“The Schucks did a great job of entitling it and getting it ready. Classic Homes is going to be the developer of the first phase of the residential,” said Stimple.

The development

Of the initial phase of 268 residential lots, 164 will be smaller lots with patio homes, 71 will be mid-sized lots and 33 will be estate lots, Stimple said.

- Advertisement -

Scheduled to be sold by the fourth quarter this year, the first phase will involve only the estate lots.

Smaller-sized lots, parcels 50-by-110 feet in size, or 5,500 square feet, are slated to be sold the first quarter next year. Those lots overlook Piñon Lake to the west and south, with “very nice views, a majestic setting,” Stimple said.

Classic Homes and another unnamed builder will construct homes for the smaller lots. Together, homes and the land will range in price from $375,000 to $400,000.

Mid-sized lots will be 80-by-120 feet in size, or 9,600 square feet. On this size lot, the homes will be built exclusively by Classic, and they will be sold with the land for between $425,000 and $600,000.

“Because the 80-foot lots and the estate lots are already platted, they will be on the market before the end of this year and early into next year,” Stimple said. “The infrastructure is largely in place. Water and sewer is in and electricity.

“We are basically solidifying some of the development work that had been commenced previously, bringing that up to standard.”

This autumn, the developers will pave interior roads.

Neighbors react

Business owners at Jackson Creek Crossing, east of Interstate 25 on Baptist Road, said they welcome the development.

“More homes is good. More business is good,” said Joseph Dang, owner of Jackson Creek Chinese Restaurant.

Masaki Kirano, owner of Cornerstone Cleaners and Alteration, agreed, saying, “More people means more business. The downside is going to be traffic. They definitely have to improve [roads for] the traffic.”

More people means more business. The downside is going to be traffic. 

– Masaki Kirano

The traffic will affect the Dellacroce Ranch, which has been in the family since 1952 and is now owned in part by Bob Dellacroce. The ranch is 725 acres of bucolic, forested hills and hay meadows on west Baptist Road.

“Overall, I haven’t been happy about it since the ’80s. I don’t care for the density,” Dellacroce said. “I hope they like the smell of manure.”

Still, he said, he can’t stop progress of the development, and “they have the right to do what they want with their land, as do I.”

Dellacroce said many developers have approached him over the years to buy his 725 acres.

“I tell them all the same thing — not in my lifetime,” he said.

Business park

Unlike the residential acreage, Monument annexed the business park’s 275 acres. Developers don’t yet have a specific business plan in mind, said Tom Blunk of Forest Lakes LLC.

“Zoning allows for up to 1.38 million square feet of office/industrial/ retail [space]. Hotel, senior living and medical [are] all allowed uses,” Blunk said. Developers plan to meet with Monument staff later this year to start initial talks.

The parcel is a “great site with incredible visibility and access to I-25,” Blunk said. “Flexible zoning allows for a variety of uses which will enhance the tax base. Sufficient water and sewer capacity exist.”

To improve traffic access for Forest Lakes and current homeowners west of the interstate off Baptist Road, crews started building a bridge to lead traffic over the railroad tracks and Monument Creek at Baptist Road. Voters approved funding the project as a top priority in 2004.

Comprised of Colorado Springs, Manitou, El Paso County, Green Mountain Falls and Ramah, the Pikes Peak Rural Transportation Authority is using sales taxes to build the $13.2 million bridge. Its share is $11.4 million, while the Baptist Road Rural Transportation Authority’s share is $750,000 and the Colorado Department of Local Affairs’ share is $1 million, said Dave Rose, chief public information officer of El Paso County.

Since it’s part of the PPRTA, the Forest Lakes subdivision is helping pay for the bridge, Stimple said. Also, the development will pay a road-impact fee of either a one-time cash fee per lot to the county or an ongoing mill levy, a requirement of all local developments.

“If you pay the mill levy, it goes on forever, and the county likes that,” Stimple said. Investors and developers have not yet settled on how they’ll pay the fee, he said.