Proposed Englewood residential complex clears planning/zoning board

Ultimate decision on development will be in hands of city council

Tayler Shaw
tshaw@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 12/5/22

A proposed 395-unit residential development near West Oxford Avenue and South Navajo Street is one step closer to approval after receiving support from the majority of Englewood’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

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Proposed Englewood residential complex clears planning/zoning board

Ultimate decision on development will be in hands of city council

Posted

A proposed 395-unit residential development near West Oxford Avenue and South Navajo Street is one step closer to approval after receiving support from the majority of Englewood’s Planning and Zoning Commission. 

The final decision will be in the hands of Englewood City Council at a future hearing.

Embrey Partners, a real estate investment company, aims to develop a four-story, multifamily building containing 361 rental units and 34 rental townhome units in seven, three-story buildings. 

The development would be located on the 8.6-acre lot that is currently home to business sites such as Sam’s Automotive Reconditioning Center, which closed permanently at the end of October

Currently, the lot is zoned as I-1, representing a light industrial zone district. Under this zoning, a range of developments are permitted, such as an office building, a hotel, and a warehousing or storage facility, according to the city’s Code of Ordinances

Multi-unit dwellings are not permitted in industrial zoning districts. To be able to develop the proposed townhome and multifamily complex, the developers had to submit an application to rezone the property to a planned unit development. 

During its November meeting, following a public hearing, the commissioners voted 5-3 to recommend the Englewood City Council approve the planned unit development. 

The three votes against recommending approval were commissioners Noel Atkins, Judy Browne and Cate Townley. Commissioner Aaron Martinez was not at the meeting. 

Although the Planning and Zoning Commission recommends approval, the Englewood City Council has the authority to approve or deny the application. 

The July 2022 site plan for Embrey Partners' proposed development of a 395-unit townhome and multi-family housing complex in Englewood on a lot near West Oxford Avenue and South Navajo Street.
The July 2022 site plan for Embrey Partners' proposed development of a 395-unit townhome and multi-family housing complex in Englewood on a lot near …

Development proposal 

The 395-unit development is planned to have 25 studio apartments, 252 one-bedroom apartments, 84 two-bedroom apartments and 34 townhomes, according to the city staff report

The townhomes would have three bedrooms, said Jimmy McCloskey, the executive vice president of development at Embrey Partners. 

These dwelling units would be market-rate rental units. McCloskey said the cost would likely range from $1,400 for the smaller units to somewhere between $3,000 to $3,500 for the townhomes.  

According to the staff report, “The majority of the units will be marketed to young, single professionals employed in the Denver region who desire walking access to light rail transit.” 

The proposed height of the development is approximately 61 feet for the apartment building and 38 feet for the townhomes, according to the staff report. 

For parking, the project is proposing 638 spaces — a parking ratio of 1.6 spaces per unit. Within the multifamily building, there would be a concealed parking garage that could hold up to 530 vehicles, and there would be 28 spaces with electric vehicle chargers.  

The townhomes would have two parking spaces under each unit, totaling 68 spaces. Each townhome would have one electric vehicle charging station. There would also be 40 surface parking spaces for residents and guests. 

Regarding the utilities and site drainage for the development, Englewood’s Public Works and Utilities departments reviewed the preliminary plans and conditionally approved them, according to the staff report. 

City staff recommended conditional approval of the application. They found the application is consistent with the city’s comprehensive plan, said Bryan Isham, planning manager for the city.

It also furthers the goals of the Englewood Light Rail Corridor Station Area Master Plan and the Oxford Station Industrial Transit-Oriented Development Study, Isham said. 

According to the light rail corridor plan, the area’s development summary states there should be a minimum density of 15 dwelling units per acre and a maximum of 75 dwelling units per acre, with the housing types being townhomes, apartments and condos. 

The development’s proposed density is 36.9 units per acre, said Marcus Pachner, president of The Pachner Company, which handles community engagement for the development. 

If approved, construction is estimated to take 24 to 30 months, McCloskey said. The first three to four months could be fairly noisy, he said. 

McCloskey said Embrey Partners does its own property management and has its own general contracting company. He previously said at a neighborhood meeting that the company would hold on to the property for at least seven to 10 years. 

Out of the 18 people who spoke during the public hearing on whether the commissioners should recommend approving the planned unit development, five were in favor, 11 were opposed and two did not directly state a position. 

Sam’s Automotive Reconditioning Center, located at 1314 W. Oxford Ave., is part of the lot that Embrey Partners aims to develop on. Image taken June 9, 2022.
Sam’s Automotive Reconditioning Center, located at 1314 W. Oxford Ave., is part of the lot that Embrey Partners aims to develop on. Image taken …

Supporters include Sam’s Automotive, business owners

Larry Olander and Mike Chavez, co-owners of Sam's Automotive, spoke during the public hearing in favor of the application.

“My family business, Sam’s Automotive, has been in the Denver metro area for 76 years,” Chavez said, noting the business has been located at 1314 W. Oxford Ave. for 56 years.  

Given the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the industry changed, he said. Olander said business dropped off and some employees retired and moved away. 

Chavez said he knew the value of the property, and the owners decided to sell it. Through working with a real estate broker, they found Embrey Partners, he said. 

“Embrey — I can’t tell you how wonderful it’s been to work with this company,” Chavez said, explaining he thinks they will be a good neighbor. “I’m happy that we can be in business with them.” 

Olander, the vice president of Sam’s Automotive and Chavez’s brother-in-law, said the owners were approached many times over the past 15 years by companies that wanted to purchase the property. 

“And we said no, because they weren’t right for our neighbors,” Olander said. “We are residents and we are neighbors in this neighborhood.” 

Embrey Partners fulfilled everything the owners were seeking for the neighborhood, Olander said. He noted Embrey changed its development plans for the neighbors, as the original plans proposed building two four-story multifamily buildings with 550 units. 

“We need to bring in more residents, and this is one way of doing that and still making Englewood beautiful,” he said. 

Other supporters of the development who spoke during the public hearing included some Englewood business owners who said they think the development will help local businesses and provide “missing middle” housing, which includes townhomes.  

Jenny Haacker, an Englewood resident living on South Lipan Street, said she supports the project.  

“I hope you can see all the good things that are happening in Englewood, and how much all of these businesses want to have new, upwardly mobile, young professionals to be in the area to spend money in Englewood,” Haacker said. 

Residents opposed to development cite traffic, density concerns

Michele Austin, the chair of the Planning and Zoning Commission, said there had never before been so many people in one of these meetings.  

“Clearly, that means there’s something different about this development from the other PUDs (planned unit developments) that have gone up in the past few years,” said Daniel Read, who also lives along South Lipan Street. 

Read, who opposes the development, said neighbors got roughly 50 digital signatures and 50 physical signatures of people who opposed the project. These signatures were submitted to the commission as part of the public hearing. 

He said residents have yet to hear how this development benefits neighbors. 

“The walkability of the community is not likely to change. The density is likely to change, however, our livability and our quality of life,” Read said. 

Opponents also spoke about concerns pertaining to traffic, increased density, high usage of the nearby Jason Park and the dwelling units being rental only.

“I would think that you would consider doing a residential block and actually putting in homes that people could take ownership in, and buy, and become residents of Englewood rather than just renters of Englewood,” said resident Barb Chumley. “I think that there is a huge difference between the two of them.”

Cecilia Ulibarri, who owns a rental home on South Lipan Street adjacent to the proposed development, said the development will lower her property value and cause traffic and noise issues. 

Resident George Blackert, also on South Lipan Street, said one of his concerns is water pressure, saying he’s lost water pressure as other nearby construction has occurred. 

Pachner responded to some of the concerns. He noted the proposed development will involve improving utility connections, and the overall density of the project is less than what city development plans listed in their guidance for the area.  

“If we were only single-family homes, we could not afford all the infrastructure improvements that we are making for the surrounding neighborhoods,” Pachner said. 

A new construction project will add multimodal improvements to a section of US 85, also known as Santa Fe Drive, from Highlands Ranch Parkway to C-470.
A new construction project will add multimodal improvements to a section of US 85, also known as Santa Fe Drive, from Highlands Ranch Parkway to …

Traffic and public improvements 

According to a traffic study done for the proposed project, the development is projected to generate 1,889 daily vehicle trips. 

To help increase pedestrian safety, the developers proposed having detached 5-foot sidewalks and 6-foot tree lawn buffer areas.  

Englewood’s Public Works is requiring a series of public improvements of the development team, according to the staff report. 

The first is widening the road on Oxford Avenue, east of Navajo Street, to provide an additional eastbound outside lane along the north side of the development, the report states. 

Other improvements include modifying the traffic signal at the Navajo/Windermere and Oxford intersection to provide a dedicated northbound left turn lane from eastbound Oxford to northbound Windermere Street, as well as coordinating with the Colorado Department of Transportation to implement updated timing plans for the traffic signal. 

The developer is also required to offer a $485,430 contribution participation fee to help fund the construction of a pedestrian bridge over Oxford Avenue between Santa Fe Drive and South Navajo Street.

The Oxford Avenue Pedestrian Bridge is a City of Englewood project that was put on an indefinite hold in September due to a lack of funding

Commissioner Colin Haggerty asked if the $485,430 contribution would be enough to resume the project. 

William Jennings, Englewood engineering manager, said it would not be enough, and estimated that probably at least $300,000 more is needed. 

Commissioners vote 5-3 for recommendation

The three votes against recommending approval were Townley, Browne and Atkins. 

Townley said she is concerned whether the proposed development is the best use of the location.

“We made a mistake, in my opinion, when City Center was developed with really high parking ratios. We’re doing it again,” she said. 

More affordable housing is needed as well in the community, Townley said, explaining she thinks it’s needed near transit. 

Browne said she had mixed feelings about it. She thinks the development does not help with walkability and that some sort of retail would help revitalize the area. 

“I want to respect the neighbors who are our citizens and have to live with this development,” Browne added. 

Atkins said he would like the proposal to be more about the transit station located nearby. If the proposal cut the parking spots in half, he “would enthusiastically go for it,” he said. 

Commissioners Haggerty, Austin, Carl Adams, Brenda Hubka and Kate Fuller voted in favor, with the condition that city staff would monitor construction at Oxford Avenue and Navajo Street to determine if additional improvements are needed. 

“We need some density. We need people, and we need shoppers to be right here,” Hubka said. 

Commissioner Austin said she wants to do what is best for the neighborhood. She thinks the transition from industrial to residential for this area is much better than other uses that could go in there. 

After the vote, a subsequent public hearing was held in regards to recommending a major subdivision for the proposed project. 

The proposed location of the development is currently split into three property lots. The major subdivision would combine the three lots into one and establish a public right-of-way dedication for the project. 

During the public hearing, five residents who previously spoke against the application expressed frustration with the public feedback process and the fact that a majority of the commissioners recommended approval. 

“I really think that the comments that Marcus and the Pachner group have put together around their level of feedback to the community has been an outrageous lie,” Read said, adding he feels resident voices have been suppressed. 

For example, he claimed the development team selectively reached out to residents on South Lipan Street with invitations for certain meetings, and pointed out the public hearing was held virtually and many elderly residents “can’t cross the digital divide.” 

There are hundreds of individuals who want to share their voice, he said, but “the city process doesn’t allow for it, and nor does the developer, certainly.” 

When it came time to vote on recommending the major subdivision, the commissioners voted the same way as before, resulting in a 5-3 approval for recommendation. 

Those interested in viewing the full meeting can watch it online at bit.ly/pud2022

Englewood, Sam's Automotive, Oxford Development, Englewood Development, Embrey Partners

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