FORT COLLINS, Colo. — Residents near the Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins met with city leaders and developers Monday to ask questions and share concerns over proposed affordable housing and middle-income condos.
The development would occupy a 7.5-acre site adjacent to the company’s brewery, which was donated to Habitat for Humanity by the Odell family late last year.
The debate is reminiscent of tension being felt in communities across Colorado in recent years: keeping up with the growing need for affordable housing while addressing the concerns of residents already in neighborhoods.
“The Odell family has partnered with Habitat for Humanity here in Fort Collins for a long time, and they've seen the need,” said Kristin Candella, executive director for Habitat for Humanity in Fort Collins. “They've worked with us. They've seen the need with their employees. They know that it got more and more difficult over the last 10 years that we've known them to be able to build something that anybody could afford. And so their donation was really — after many, many years of commitment — it felt like something that was just close to their heart that they wanted to see happen.”
Habit For Humanity is working with local developer Hartford Homes on a proposal to build 140 condos, with 30 classified as affordable and 110 classified for those in the “missing middle” income brackets.
Developers argue that this mixture is optimal for use of the available land and the development costs. Several residents in the adjacent Buckingham neighborhood, however, raised density, traffic and parking concerns at Monday's meeting.
“We’re already here. Our streets are only so big, you know, and we’re already dealing with semis coming down the street,” said resident Gayle Kwan. “I mean, you can only squeeze an area so much, you know, and you have to balance it.”
Kwan, like other residents who shared concerns Monday, said she wants to see more affordable housing built in Fort Collins and is open to some of it going on the open land near Odell Brewing Company. However, she wants city leaders and developers to temper ambitions so as not to overwhelm the existing neighborhoods nearby.
Meanwhile, a handful of neighbors attended the meeting to express their support for the current proposal. Resident Hannah Casey told Denver7 she became emotional during the meeting, thinking about her family and friends who are struggling to afford housing in Fort Collins.
“I did a lot of research on the housing crisis in Colorado, and I came to the conclusion that the only way to really drive down the cost of rent and housing for new homebuyers is to increase supply and then, specifically, supply more higher density units,” Casey said. “I got emotional because I have a lot of friends in town… like of all walks of life who can like barely hang on and afford to live here, even those who make, like, what you would think are good wages.”
The proposal is still in the very early stages. According to the City of Fort Collins, a vote by city council is first needed to rezone the land for residential development before specifics of the proposal can be approved.
Many alterations to the plan may happen between now and then, in response to public comment. No meetings are currently scheduled for the city council, though they are expected this summer.