Senior housing proposed between two parks

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By Vicky Gits

County planning officials are looking at a private developer’s proposal to build 14 senior-living units on private property bordered by Buchanan and Bergen parks north of the Buchanan Rec Center.

The property consists of two 1-acre parcels bordered by Bergen Park on the north and Buchanan Park on the south.

“At this point, it’s an interest,” said developer Chris Parr, who lives in Evergreen. “I want to explore what’s possible there. The attraction is the location could be difficult or it could be successful — adjacent to parks, the rec center and a lot of great amenities.”

Parr said he is looking at the property but doesn’t have an option or a contract to buy it yet. Coldwell Banker is listing it for sale at $1.2 million.

The Evergreen Park and Recreation District also is looking at the property, which just recently came on the market, said Allan Casey, president of the board of directors. “It’s no different than how we acquired the rest of the property,” Casey said. “We waited until the owner was ready to sell, and we worked out a mutual agreement.”

Over the last 14 years, the park district has spent about $6 million on property for a future Buchanan Park anchored by a community arts center and other amenities. (Visit www.buchananpark.org for details.)

The proposed average size for the senior units under consideration is about 1,500 square feet each, with prices ranging from $300,000 to $600,000, Parr said.

The preliminary application, which Parr submitted Dec. 30, is the first step in a long process that includes a community meeting to consider rezoning, said Jeanne Shaffer, county planner.

A planning analysis from February 2008 says the planning staff does not support rezoning to commercial, but staff would consider a senior housing or community medical facility. The senior living uses would not include assisted living or a nursing home.

The park district reportedly looked at buying the land but never completed a deal.

Parr works in Denver as director of development for the Denver Housing Authority on mixed-use, market-rate communities with affordable-living components. He also worked for years for a private developer, the Integral Group of Atlanta.

Parr has three kids under 4 years old, is a frequent user of the Buchanan Rec Center, and plans to live in Evergreen for the rest of his life.

“I put this preliminary application in so I could explore things before there’s anything real at this point. … The rec district has been interested, but they haven’t been able to purchase the property. We would have to work together to make this successful,” Parr said.

The 2.2 acres lie between Evergreen Parkway and Bergen Parkway, across Evergreen Parkway from the Stone House building on Windom Drive. A single-family, one-story home now occupies the site, which is zoned agricultural.

The property falls inside the Bergen Park Activity Center in the 2005 Evergreen Area Community Plan, which designates it as suitable for community use-residential. A higher-density senior living complex is considered appropriate, given the access to walking paths and community services, according to the document.

However, the community plan states that the Buchanan Park Expansion Master Plan should be followed in areas labeled community use-residential. There are no references to senior living in the Buchanan master plan, but the master plan doesn’t show any proposed park structures for the space.

“The unique thing is the troubled thing, being in between two parks,” Parr said. “That’s the problem with it. It has two points of access, and both have issues.”

He is planning to ask for a meeting with the park district in the next two weeks.

The developer is talking to the owner about purchasing the property.

“Given the importance of the site to the surrounding effort of the Evergreen Park and Recreation District, great care will be given to the design and site impact,” the developer states in a Dec. 30 letter to the planning department. “That is why I believe a detached, smaller-square-footage home designed for senior living best suits the site. The design will also be considerate of the mountain setting and will pay great attention to the architectural detail.”