A tight residential real estate market and growing demand for housing have led to creative redevelopment and infill projects throughout Colorado Springs — but perhaps most noticeably on the Westside, where houses and multifamily buildings are going up on long-unused lots.
GJ Gardner Homes is building an $800,000 modern duplex on a vacant lot at 1317 W. Colorado Ave.; Challenger Homes is nearing completion of its 46-unit apartment building on redeveloped land at 22 N. Spruce St.; a $224,000 contemporary home has gone up on a small lot between two old homes at 1726 W. Colorado Ave.; and at 509 W. Dale St., an old school has become an expanding complex of newly constructed homes and townhomes.
Those are just a few examples of how residents and developers are finding creative ways to add to a record-low inventory of available homes in the Colorado Springs market.
“Certainly the trend in that part of the city is and will be higher-density housing, but that doesn’t necessarily mean large-scale apartment buildings,” said Peter Wysocki, city planning manager for the city of Colorado Springs. “That could also mean small apartment buildings or condos, like the 22 Spruce project … or the Gabion Apartments. Projects like that are what is attractive to the Westside, because it’s a very walkable area and therefore more appropriate for higher-density housing.”
Wysocki said that infill and redevelopment have for years been a priority in more mature Colorado Springs neighborhoods such as the Westside, but that development really picked up after Colorado Springs City Council voted last March to adopt a supplement on infill to the city’s Comprehensive Plan.
The “Infill Comprehensive Plan Supplement” included three priority areas for infill and redevelopment: the North Nevada Avenue corridor, the South Nevada Avenue corridor and the West Colorado Avenue corridor.
The city’s pro-infill positioning has made it easier for developers and homeowners to build on previously vacant or unused properties, which is loosely how Wysocki described the whole ethos of infill.
“To me, infill and redevelopment is broadly defined as development of either vacant or under-utilized property in the more mature parts of the city — the Westside, Southwest and in the general core of the city,” he said. “West Colorado is a gateway to our city and there is a good opportunity there to lay a foundation or a framework for mixed-use redevelopment around Old Colorado City.”
Infill and redevelopment in areas like the Westside are positive because they produce demand for commercial development and make neighborhoods more accessible by multi-modal transportation and mass transit, Wysocki said.
The city of Colorado Springs has shied away from predicting the unpredictable; Wysocki won’t guess how long it might take for the city to build itself out if infill and redevelopment activity gains traction in other neighborhoods.
“I think that to a large degree the market will dictate that,” Wysocki said. “The young professional, Millennial workforce preference is to be in more of a densely populated, walkable, active, non-suburban neighborhood. So the market certainly now is quite active.”