After years of little new development along Fort Collins' major gateways, planned apartment complexes are starting to pop up along I-25.
Las Vegas-developer CVRT has proposed 330 apartments on the southwest corner of Strauss Cabin and Harmony Road, just west of Interstate 25. It joins a similar project at the Prospect Road interchange, which is slated for 650 apartments, townhomes and single-family homes.
Harmony 23 sits on 23 acres, a near perfect triangle bordered by Harmony Road on the north, Strauss Cabin Road on the east and the Fossil Creek Inlet Ditch on the west. Multifamily development is pushing out to the interstate because of land availability and a mobile population that commutes among Northern Colorado's cities and towns, said Eric Holsapple, principal with LC Real Estate Group in Loveland.
"People work in one city and (live) in another ... and I-25 is the Main Street of Northern Colorado," he said, quoting Larry Kendall, founder of The Group Real Estate.
With land and water costs pushing Fort Collins home prices near $400,000, and a construction defects law hampering condo construction — often a lower-cost option for home ownership — many residents are still renting, Holsapple said.
Christopher Johnson, assistant director of the Everitt Real Estate Center at Colorado State University, said "a lot of people think of students when they think about apartments, but something like that near such a transportation avenue when you have a market that is functioning like ours might be going after an older group that would be buying but is now renting."
MORE ON BUILDING: With rooftops comes retail?
CVRT officials did not return requests for comment.
The site is in the city's employment zone, which required the developer to get a zoning modification to allow the site to be 100 percent residential rather than complementary to employment.
Harmony 23 is adjacent to about 236 acres being developed by longtime Fort Collins developer JD Padilla of Post Modern Development. Combined, the two projects would develop the entire southwest corner of Harmony Road from Interstate 25 to Strauss Cabin Road.
Padilla's project is largely retail and commercial, including a convenience shopping center in the first phase.
The final two phases of Padilla's project will likely include a hotel and 120,000-square-foot indoor sports complex that he would like to see supported by a sporting goods store, the only "big box" store slated for the property.
305 upscale apartments planned in north Fort Collins
If Harmony 23, Padilla's project and Gateway at Prospect all get built, they will transform the city's two most underdeveloped gateways within the next few years.
Despite a plethora of apartment projects in the works throughout the city, Fort Collins' rental vacancy rate remains less than 3 percent, according to the second quarter Colorado Multifamily Housing Vacancy and Rental Survey conducted for the Colorado Division of Housing.
Photo Courtesy VF Ripley Design