CITY HALL — A controversial development agreement that could replace a trailer park with a 377-unit apartment complex won a second approval from a divided City Council Tuesday night despite protestations from some members about its density.
Council members Tony Vazquez, Kevin McKeown and Ted Winterer voted against the development, citing concerns that the square footage of roads that the developer is ceding to city control had been used to calculate the density of the project, making it seem less dense than it really is.
Reports before the City Council put the floor area ratio (FAR) — a calculation that describes how dense a building is — at 2.2, when it might be closer to 3 without counting the square footage included in the roads.
That’s higher than the 2.5 FAR allowed in the Mixed-Use Creative District, in which the project is located.
Two new streets included in the project — Pennsylvania Avenue and New Road — are estimated as a $2.3 million community benefit to the city. The ceded space is calculated into the total density of the building much like open space included in developments, said Planning Director David Martin.
The roads are not “typical,” Martin said, because they include open space and are meant to move people and bicycles around, not just cars.
“We are asking developers to provide roads and connections we’re seeking, and it doesn’t make sense to also penalize them for ceding their property as an easement,” Martin said.
Martin told council members that the calculation was a common one, and had been used in previous development agreements including that for Colorado Creative Studios, which is nearby the project site, and The Village, a mixed market rate and affordable housing complex being built across the street from City Hall.
The explanation did not mollify Winterer or McKeown, who noted that the floor area ratio — a calculation that describes how dense the building is — described in reports about the project did not accurately reflect just how dense the building really is.
“I don’t think that’s what the community expects, or what I voted for in the draft plan,” McKeown said.
The increase in the real FAR threw another council complaint — a relative lack of affordable housing — in a worse light, Winterer said.
“(It) makes me even more dismayed by getting only code-required affordable housing,” Winterer said, also expressing his displeasure at what he considered weak environmental requirements of the project.
Tuesday night was the second reading of the ordinance, a legislative act that cements the city’s contract with Village Trailer Park, LLC. into law. The development has already gone through this process once before, however, getting all the way through the second reading before McKeown called for the contract to be rescinded in the face of questions about affordable housing on the site.