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'Workforce' housing proposed for former Albertsons

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By Sandy Barnes

Two Evergreen architectural designers have created an innovative plan to transform the former Albertsons into “workforce housing.”

 

Calling the concept a “strategic vision,” Shane O’Regan Murphy and Michael Whitehouse are proposing an apartment project for the empty building. 

In Evergreen there is a real problem with low-wage people not being able to find a reasonably priced place to live, said Murphy. Many people who work in Evergreen cannot afford to live here, he said.

Building 50 apartment units in the Tanoa Village complex using a tax-credit package is the beginning of a solution, said Murphy.

“This is a first step,” he said.

Murphy and Whitehouse are hoping to generate community interest in the project, which they believe is an appropriate use of the property.

The county commissioners recently approved a rezoning request to accommodate plans for a farm supply store at the former Albertsons. However, the deal has not come together, said Brian Shorter of Sullivan-Hayes, a commercial real estate broker in Denver who was marketing the property.

Murphy and Whitehouse say that creating housing is a better use of the space on Bryant Drive, rather than the formerly proposedTSC store with outdoor equipment displays.

“The nice thing is, as residents drive down from Tanoa, they will see what they see now,” Murphy said.

The Tanoa Village plan that Whitehouse and Murphy have discussed with Jeffco planners includes one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments built on two levels. 

In the plan, Murphy has incorporated a design that includes narrow streets within the complex where people can walk and socialize — creating an inner-city living feel in the mountains.

“It’s more of a European model,” Murphy remarked. “We’re slicing through the building, redesigning it to residential scale. We’re taking a big box and trying to bring the scale down.”

The 21 one-bedroom apartments would have 700 square feet of space, and 20 two-bedroom units would be 900 square feet in size. Nine three-bedroom units would have 1,200 square feet of usable space. 

The remaining 9,000 square feet of the property would be used for retail stores, according to the mixed-use plan that would require rezoning to move forward.

There is also ample parking on the site. The current parking requirement for the property is 212 spaces. However, the apartment project would need only 113 parking spaces, said Murphy.

An added advantage of building the complex at the site is that bus service is available in the area for residents, he added.

As a builder, Whitehouse says that increasing construction costs are a consideration. The tax-reduction incentive would help make the plan viable, he said.

“With Albertsons, a lot of the existing building could be used,” he said. 

The site has existing infrastructure that includes an abundance of water taps that would serve the apartment complex.

The 8,000 to 9,000 square feet of property surrounding the building, which includes some of the existing parking area, would be converted into landscaped plantings.

While discussing the plan, Murphy and Whitehouse say they are providing a vision for workforce housing that they hope will receive support from potential investors as well as the community.

Contact reporter Sandy Barnes at sandy@evergreenco.com or call 303-350-1042.