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Thursday, October 15,2009

Foes say makeover of Army Reserve facility isn't all it could be

By Jefferson Dodge

Pet changes

Area residents list a variety of things they would change about the project.

"I throw a few roses to the developer, but there may be a few other things they can do," Havlick says, citing more emphasis on front porches and less on garages, as well as the option of having solar panels on the roofs. "In this day and age, with energy costs skyrocketing, shouldn't they go the extra mile? I think the homes would be more sellable."

Blackmore calls the development "pretty high and dense for this particular part of town."

Korba worries about the possibility that hazardous materials are buried in the ground behind the Armory building, where heavy machinery and military vehicles were stored and operated for years.

Guiler said the developer was required to perform a state-monitored environmental assessment, and has received state certification that the site is clear of hazardous materials.

"There were no surprises in the backyard," Stainton says with a laugh. "There were no weapons of mass destruction there."

Korba also complains that the developer has asked for an exception to a city regulation that requires construction to be substantially completed within three years. He says traffic and other conditions may be quite different in five or six years than they would be in just three years. Stainton confirmed that Four Star has asked for permission just to start construction within five years, but Guiler says the decision on whether to grant that extension rests with city council.

Some neighbors lament the loss of their sunrise views, the side effects of construction and the loss of an opportunity to have open public space leading from Table Mesa to Tantra Park, on the south side of Summit Middle Charter School.

"Wouldn't it have been nice to have a trail from Table Mesa through those properties and to that area?" Korba asks.

But there are still plans in the works to create a trail to Summit from Table Mesa, on the west side of the Armory, between it and the houses on 46th.

David Finell, the principal at Summit, says that while he is supportive of the Armory project as a nice addition to the neighborhood, he has a few concerns about the trail. He cites the possibility of increased noise and trash that could result from his students using that corridor and, conversely, there may be student safety issues associated with having the public use the path to travel between Table Mesa and Tantra Park.

When asked why he is moving forward with the city approval process when ground may not be broken for five years, Stainton says Four Stars wants to be ready to go when the market improves.

Cerio worries about displaced wildlife and says the project does not represent sustainable development. "They're just developing that area for money, and there's no market for those homes," he says.

Stainton declines to reveal any of the in-house projections on what the development will cost or how much money it is expected to bring in. He says all of that depends on the economic and market environment in which it is finally constructed.

"Obviously, we've done some work to make sure we're not going to lose our shirt on it," he says, "but it's not appropriate for us to give any details because it depends on the conditions at the time. We're just trying to take a site that's an eyesore and was an inappropriate use for the area and turn it into a compatible neighborhood that will contribute to the public good."

Blackmore says that many of the neighbors are coming to understand that this project may be the best they can hope for.

"I think they're realizing they're not going to get anything better right up against their backyards," she says.

Guiler adds, "Well, when you had tanks in your backyard"

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