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Thursday, October 15,2009

Foes say makeover of Army Reserve facility isn't all it could be

By Jefferson Dodge

One of the most significant residential developments currently planned for the city of Boulder has been quietly flying under the radar.

While it may not generate as much controversy as the recent decision to redevelop Washington Elementary School, another developer has acquired a government-owned property and has riled up neighbors with his plans to redevelop the area.

Some say it won't become a full-fledged flap because it doesn't involve a historic school building but a blighted, graffiti-covered U.S. Army Reserve facility that many refer to as an "eyesore."

Those who oppose the proposal lament that projects in historically blue-collar south Boulder are largely ignored compared to developments in higher-end, more historic areas of the city.

And some residents say the developer has largely defused the situation by responding well to complaints raised by neighbors and city officials, adjusting his plan to address those concerns.

But there are still many in the neighborhood who are upset by the prospect of a private higher-density development, in part because the city wasn't given the first opportunity to acquire the property from the federal government and turn it into a park or use it for some other public purpose.

The property, known as "The Armory," is about four acres and located on Table Mesa Drive, between Tantra Drive and South 46th Street. To the south of the property is Summit Middle Charter School. The developer, Peter Stainton of Four Star Realty in Boulder, wants to build as many as 41 residential units on the site, including duplexes, row houses and singlefamily homes.

Stainton, who co-founded Four Star in 1986, developed the 36-unit Goose Creek Condominiums at 29th and Bluff Streets, and redeveloped the Delta House as "luxury student rentals."

According to city officials, Stainton submitted a concept plan for the development in 2006, but the following year, the city's Planning Board rejected the proposal and requested several changes to the plan, including access off of Tantra instead of Table Mesa and a more compatible interface with the neighborhood to the west.

Four Star is now under contract to purchase an adjacent property at 555 Tantra, behind the South Boulder Animal Hospital, so that it can be converted into the main roadway to access the housing development off of Tantra. It has also replaced tall carriagehouse-style garages that were slated for the western edge of the property with single-family homes that are more set back from the existing houses on 46th.

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