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Loveland planners OK Draper and Jefferson garage but frown on Centerra South

LOVELAND – Developers of the proposed 148-acre Centerra South project may have to return to the drawing board.

The Loveland Planning Commission gave a green light Monday for construction to begin on the Draper-Heartland project and the adjacent Jefferson parking structure in downtown Loveland but recommended to the City Council against approving the site plan for Centerra South, which would rise south of U.S. Highway 34 across from the Marketplace at Centerra.

The commission’s 5-2 vote against the site plan is a nonbinding resolution, and the City Council could approve it anyway. Moreover, Loveland Urban Renewal Authority consultant Andrew Arnold had written to the panel recommending approval.

However, the planning panel’s majority felt the plan as submitted by developer McWhinney Real Estate Services wasn’t complete, wasn’t in conformance with the city’s comprehensive plan, and didn’t meet the requirements for blight designation that a property needs to qualify for urban renewal — even though McWhinney’s consultant said it meets five of 11 blight criteria, one more than is needed to qualify.

The Centerra South plan includes a 40,000-square-foot Whole Foods grocery store in the northeast corner of the development, smaller than the chain’s 71,000-square-foot store at 2201 S. College Ave. in Fort Collins. The development also includes 298,083 square feet of commercial development including the grocery, plus 1,075 housing units, most of which will be in multifamily and duplex units.

The Draper-Heartland and Jefferson projects got a more favorable reception.

Loveland planners approved the Draper mixed-use development along with a height exception for the adjacent parking garage.

The five-story Draper building, at the corner of Fourth and Lincoln streets, will incorporate five existing buildings and, when complete, will comprise 108,925 square feet, with 96 residential units and 14,559 square feet of commercial space.

The 4½-story garage at the corner of Fifth Street and Jefferson Avenues will include parking spaces for the 96 Draper residential units plus 171 spaces for the general public. Planners on Monday approved a variance from the downtown zoning rules limiting structures to 70 feet in height, allowing the garage’s northeast stair tower to rise to 75 feet 8 inches, while the stair tower on the southwest tower will be 74 feet 1 inch tall.

Unlike the panel’s Centerra South negative recommendation to the City Council, approval of the Draper and Jefferson structures constituted final city approval. No timeline for construction to begin was presented on Monday, but the Draper and Jefferson structures are to be built nearly simultaneously because the parking structure is needed to accommodate the residential parking needs for Draper’s tenants.

A drawing shows the basic outline of the Centerra South development, with commercial adjacent to U.S. Highway 34 and residential to the south. Source: Loveland planning documents.

Source: BizWest