LAFAYETTE — Chicagoland builder Kensington Development Partners intends to transform a roughly 40-acre vacant lot in Boulder County due west of Erie’s Nine Mile shopping center into a new mixed-use district that could eventually be home to residences, a variety of businesses and perhaps even lodging.
Representatives with the developer, its consultants and Lafeyette’s planning department met with neighbors around the southwest corner of U.S. Highway 287 and Arapahoe Road to introduce the idea last week. Lafayette planners are involved from this very preliminary stage of the development process because Kensington intends to ask the city to annex the property, which it does not yet own. No development applications to the city have yet been submitted.
Kensington and its representatives were cagey in response to questions about specific plans for the property, repeatedly emphasizing that the proposal is nascent, and that the vetting and approval process is long and thorough.
“We don’t know exactly what happens on each edge” of the project site, Marcus Pachner, founder of public affairs consulting firm the Pachner Group, said during this week’s voluntary neighborhood information session. As the project moves forward toward certain milestones, additional meetings are required under Lafayette code.
After that meeting, representatives with Kensington and the Pachner group did not respond to requests from BizWest for additional details about the proposal.
Those details will eventually be made public as Kensington maneuvers through the approval process for the annexation, planned unit development and rezoning that are necessary prior to groundbreaking.
The Lafayette project, should it materialize, would be built with an “urban growth boundary” as designated in the city’s comprehensive land-use plan, Lafayette planning director Jeff Brasel said.
City leaders who developed the comp plan envisioned projects within such a boundary as “destination oriented” with accessibility for a variety of transportation users, he said. Businesses would be housed in “adaptable commercial” spaces that can accommodate an array of business types and have the potential for residential units on upper floors.
These types of developments create a “much more vibrant community” than single-family residential neighborhoods and suburban strip malls, Brasel said.
When asked during the neighborhood meeting whether Kensington intends to build a hotel on the site, Pachner didn’t answer directly, but said, “We will look at that — it actually works very well in this type of environment.”
Project representatives pointed to the Boulevard One district in Denver’s Lowry neighborhood as inspiration for the Lafayette development.
That 70-acre project is planned to include roughly 1,000 residences, a community plaza, offices, shops and eateries.
The questions and comments from neighbors to Kensington at this week’s information session took a mostly anti-development tenor.
Concerns centered around traffic, noise, pollution, economic viability and community needs, sustainability, affordable housing and walkability.