Is White Acres Development a Bluff?

December 8th, 2008

White Acres, Colorado Springs

In my report on the White Acres pre-annexation meeting, I said it felt like Infinity Land Company was trying to force something. Email conversations with those that know more details seem to confirm it. Some believe that they are trying to use public opinion to be able to sell the land for a higher price.

Another developer doesn’t see how they can get money to do the development. Permits for new houses are a tiny fraction of what they’ve been the last several years. At least one other project that Paul Howard of Infinity is involved with is in foreclosure.

White Acres, Colorado SpringsIt seems the city has a fair amount of control. I asked Mr. Howard what the effect on development would be if the city council reject annexation. He said they would develop as part of the county. I thought they needed the land annexed to build as many houses as they want to but he didn’t answer that.

An article in the Gazette answers that question though. They would only be able to develop 8 lots if it’s not annexed by the city. It seems like that would make it tough to make much of a profit on the development.

Although it appears less likely White Acres will be developed anytime soon, I’m still going to keep a close eye on it. I still think it’s a good idea to take the actions I listed in my pre-annexation meeting post.

Mark, who posted the great video of White Acres last week, also video taped the pre-annexation and has been uploading clips of peoples comments to YouTube. He has one of Cyndy Kulp accusing Mr. Howard of blackmail.

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White Acres Annexation Pre-Application Meetting

December 4th, 2008

White Acres Annexation Meeting

White Acres, Colorado SpringsLast night I went to the pre-application meeting for annexing White Acres. Read my post on White Acres from a couple days ago to see video and learn more about it.

City council rejected buying White Acres for open space during a closed session in September. Howard says he and the church would still rather see the land left as open space. He said even if they submit the annexation application, they will pull it if something can still be worked out for open space. Of course the church and Infinity want to get as much money as they can.

White Acres, Colorado SpringsI believe the church would like to see it open space. Infinity is just doing business. City council made their decision behind closed doors so we don’t know their side of the story. Somehow though it feels like Infinity is trying to force something.

David Litzelman from city planning talked about the process for annexation. John Maynard from NES, Inc. spoke about their preliminary look at how the land could be developed. Paul Howard from Infinity Land Corporation, half owner of the property, talked about the open space negotiations and responded to most of the questions. Although there was a representative from Bethany Baptist Church, the long time owner, in the audience, he didn’t speak.

The Development Plan

White Acres, Colorado SpringsThe plan they are talking about would have townhomes near the 5 way stop at 26th, Gold Camp and Bear Creek Road. Currently there’s a house on the corner. Howard said something about 6-8 units. I’m not sure how many townhomes would be in a unit although I’ve seen a number 16-22 total townhomes.

Up the hillside toward the south would be single family homes. Currently there’s a pavilion in this area. There would be approximately 27 lots that would be around 1/2 acre.

They wouldn’t be able to develop the hogback because of the city’s hillside ordinance. They’d be willing to leave the area on the backside open space. Howard didn’t know if it would be given to city parks or how it would be managed.

Peoples Concerns

White Acres, Colorado SpringsBesides the obvious impact to the views and wildlife, peoples biggest concerns were traffic and water. Gold Camp Road the east would be able to handle traffic but I don’t see 26th being able to handle much traffic. There were questions both about water for the homes and also how runoff would impact the surrounding area. Someone brought up a concern about increased risk of a brush fire and greater impact if there is one.

I asked what Infinity would do if the city council rejected annexation. Howard said they would go to El Paso county with development.

If the property isn’t inside city limits, I don’t believe Colorado Springs Utilities is required to supply water. It seems it could be difficult to develop it without annexation. I don’t know much about development so does a reader have any insights on it?

Price Negotiations

White Acres, Colorado SpringsAccording to Howard, the city had the property appraised by a Denver company in March. That appraisal was $800,000. Infinity thought that was too low and wanted another appraisal. An appraisal in July came in at $2.1 million. He said they have a bank appraisal for $3.2 million. He said they would have sold White Acres for $1.375 million.

Even at $1.375 million, the land would be $29,000 an acre. The city paid $16,000 an acre for Red Rocks Canyon Open Space. Howard said that less of Red Rocks would have been able to be developed so they aren’t asking that much.

How You Can Help

  • Add your name to the Save White Acres petition (no longer active). They will be giving the list to the city.
  • Help spread the word that this land is about to be developed. Many people don’t know it’s private property and about to be developed.
  • Email Chris Lieber (no longer works for city) of TOPS and city parks
  • Contact your city council member

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White Acres to be Developed

December 1st, 2008

White Acres, Colorado SpringsIt had been a while since I’d heard much on White Acres. It’s a section of land for sale bordering Red Rock Canyon Open Space and Section 16. The video above really shows what a beautiful area it is. I also posted several photos of White Acres the beginning of June.

I attended a TOPS meeting in May for public input on buying it for open space. At the meeting in May, no cost for the property was discussed. According to an article in the November 20th Westside Pioneer, Bethany Baptist Church and Infinity Land Corporation wanted substantially more than the $16,000 an acre paid for Red Rock Open Space.

The city wasn’t willing to pay the asking price so plans are going forward to develop it. They’re also asking the city to annex the property. It seems that allows more houses to be built than if it remained outside city limits.

The plan is for 16-22 townhomes along Gold Camp Road. Approximately 27 single family homes would be built on the backside of the ridge and be visible from Section 16 and Red Rock Canyon Open Space. The ridgeline and hogback would be left undeveloped.

On the map to the left from Friends of Red Rock Canyon, Gold Camp road is the curved border on the east side of White Acres. The curved part starts at the 5 way stop sign on 26th street on the popular bike ride up 26th and Gold Camp.

How You Can Help

  • There’s a meeting for public comment this Wednesday evening, December 3rd, from 6 to 8 at Midland Elementary School, 2110 West Broadway Street. I plan to be there.
  • Add your name to the Save White Acres petition (no longer active). They will be giving the list to the city.
  • Help spread the word that this land is about to be developed. Many people don’t know it’s private property and about to be developed.

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White Acres Article

July 24th, 2008

White Acres/Section 16

Update 12/1/08: The city has decided not to buy White Acres for open space and it looks like development is moving forward. Development still isn’t approved so make your voice heard.

Last week The Gazette, our local paper, had an article about White Acres. I’ve written about the possible open space a couple times. My last post had several pictures of White Acres.

According to the Gazette article, Bethany Church would like to see the land undeveloped. The church needs a lot of maintenance and needs money. Since TOPS wasn’t initially interested in buying the property, they’ve partnered with Infinity Land Corp. and have a plan for 28 houses.

My 5 year old went with me to the TOPS meeting a couple months ago when White Acres was discussed. We were riding at Red Rock Canyon last Sunday. She asked me if that was where we needed to stop people from building houses. She was on the trailer bike and I took her up there. I certainly got a workout!

It really would be sad if this great spot was developed. You can let TOPS know what you think by sending email to Chris Lieber.

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Update on White Acres with Pictures

June 4th, 2008

White Acres/Section 16

Update 12/1/08: The city has decided not to buy White Acres for open space and it looks like development is moving forward. Development still isn’t approved so make your voice heard.

Update 12/8/08: Maybe development of White Acres is a bluff by the land development company to get the city to pay more. Even if it is, I think the city needs know people don’t want it developed.

White Acres Map, Colorado SpringsThe Friends of Red Rock Canyon have created a page with more information about the White Acres land. This is the land near Section 16 and Red Rocks Open Space that is for sale. A couple weeks ago, I went to the TOPS meeting to discuss buying it for open space.

The map they have shows how Red Rocks Open Space, Section 16 and White Acres fit together. The curved White Acres boundary on the east is the location of Gold Camp Road. The social trail that connects Red Rocks Open Space and Section 16 is about 2/3 of the way from Gold Camp Road to the Section 16 boundary on the north. It goes into Section 16 before the south boundary of White Acres.

Below are some more pictures of the area.

White Acres, Colorado Springs

White Acres, Colorado Springs

White Acres, Colorado Springs

White Acres, Colorado Springs

White Acres, Colorado Springs

White Acres, Colorado Springs

These pictures are from farther north in Red Rocks Open Space.

Rock Quarry in Red Rocks Open Space, Colorado Springs

Old Landfill in Red Rocks Open Space, Colorado Springs, CO

Looking Toward Ute Pass from Red Rock Open Space, Colorado Springs, CO

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TOPS Meeting on White Acres

May 22nd, 2008

White Acres Social Trail

I did make it to the TOPS Meeting yesterday for the presentation on the White Acres/Bethany Baptist Church parcel near Section 16 and Red Rock Canyon Open Space. The church is interested in selling the property. It seems there is a developer that is interested in developing about 25 lots plus town homes along Gold Camp road.

White Acres Social TrailThere was a short presentation that included pictures of the area. The TOPS committee has had some discussions about only purchasing the area along the hogback or ridge and allowing development along Gold Camp. Although I think the ridge is the most important piece, I really don’t want to see any development on that land.

If you don’t know where that land is, it is near the 5 way stop where 26th street drops into Bear Creek Canyon. It is the land along Gold Camp Road to the right if you’re headed into Bear Creek Canyon. It extends up and over the ridge. You can see a
map of the parcel on the county assessor’s parcel info.

The key thing about the property is there’s a trail that runs along the ridge that connects from the old landfill road to near the Section 16 parking lot. This allows for some bigger loops with trails in Red Rocks Open Space and the Section 16/Intemann Trails. There are some great views from there. The pictures I’ve added are from late in the day in November so the lighting isn’t very good.

There were only 5 people there including me to comment on the White Acres/Bethany Baptist Church parcel. All were in favor of it being purchased for open space. A couple said they thought some development was alright. I made it clear I didn’t want any development.

Jim Yount from Medicine Wheel asked if people could comment by e-mail since he hadn’t been able to notify people until yesterday. The committee said they would welcome email comments. They should be sent to Chris Lieber. Send me an email if you would like his email address.

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Today TOPS to Discuss Land East of Red Rocks Open Space

May 21st, 2008

White Acres, which is owned by the Bethany Baptist Church, adjoins the south end of Red Rock Canyon Open Space and the east side of Section 16. It is between 40 and 50 acres spanning the hogbacks and is visually prominent from the east as well as from many places in Section 16. The popular informal trail which links the Lion Trail in Red Rock Canyon Open Space to Section 16 trails crosses White Acres.

This informal trail is part of my favorite loop in Red Rock Canyon Open Space. It is a narrow trail along the top of the ridge over looking the city. I can’t get Blogger to let me add the picture I have of the trail but it’s the bottom picture in this post from November.

The Church is now interested in selling White Acres; and an application for TOPS to acquire the property has been submitted. There will be an update on White Acres at the TOPS Working Committee meeting this afternoon, Wednesday, May 21st. It would be a real bummer to lose this pieced of land to development.

The update on White Acres is scheduled for 5:15 PM and it would be a good idea to arrive earlier in case other agenda items are shorter than scheduled. The meeting is in the Parks Department building, 1401 Recreation Way, in the Palmer Room. I’m not sure I can make it out of work in time to make it to the meeting, but I’m going to try.

To get to the Parks Department building, take Uintah to Glen Street just east of I-25, go north a block on Glen, then go west a block on San Miguel. San Miguel bends to the north and becomes Recreation Way. The building is on the right an about a block. You can also get there from the I-25 Fontanero exit by heading east. You then have to turn right onto Recreation Way.

Update: I just found out that a developer is interested in that land. They want to put in 25+ lots plus town homes along the road.

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