Economy & Economic Development  October 27, 2022

Estes Park rezones tract for future workforce housing

ESTES PARK — As voters in tourism-dependent Estes Park prepare to vote on a lodging-tax increase to support workforce housing, the Board of Trustees has voted unanimously to rezone  a 21.1-acre tract where up to 190 units could be built.

The vote at Tuesday’s meeting changed the tract, off of Fish Hatchery Road on the south bank of the Fall River, from accommodations to multifamily residential zoning. More review and approval processes by the town will be needed before the housing can be built.

Jeff Woeber, the town’s senior planner, told the board that the 190-unit figure was based on the limits of existing water and sewer capacity.

The board’s vote came after listening to testimony about the need for workforce housing by a parade of area workers, some of whom have lived in the Estes Valley for decades and many of whom spoke Spanish and had an interpreter translate for them.

The only concerns the board heard were about traffic on Fish Hatchery Road, safety of bicyclists and pedestrians along it and adjacent U.S. Highway 34 as they head into work, and whether the costs of rent for the future housing would be truly affordable.

The trustees also heard a request by members of the Fine Arts Guild of the Rockies to grant them a long-term lease on a two-acre town-owned parcel at the northwest corner of Moraine Avenue (west U.S. Highway 36) and Elm Road for construction of a performing-arts complex.

The proposed project, estimated to cost up to $8 million, would include a 150-seat theater, a restaurant and 60 parking spaces with the possible addition of a climbing wall.

Some trustees cited infrastructure challenges that could arise because of the parcel’s proximity to the town’s waste-management facility, and Mayor Pro Tem Scott Webermeier suggested Stanley Park might be a better location for the center.

As late as six years ago, a nonprofit group called Estes Performance Inc. (EPIC) was attempting to raise funds and get approvals to build a $30 million performing-arts center on the downtown site of the Park Center Mall, which burned in 2009.