Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Sunshine Parcel back in spotlight

Sun Valley P&Z revisits contested Elkhorn project

Express Staff Writer

After surviving years of debate, a significantly amended proposal to develop the high-profile Sunshine Parcel in Elkhorn came back to the Sun Valley Planning and Zoning Commission Tuesday, June 28.

The proposal concerns development of a vacant 4.26-acre parcel of land in central Elkhorn that was previously known as the site of the proposed Sun Villas project.

The owners of the property, New York City-based Blackacre Capital Management and Greenfield Partners, a Connecticut- and Chicago-based investment group that includes Ketchum-based partner David Hennessy, approached the P&Z on Tuesday with a significantly revised set of conceptual site plans.

The plan presented to the commission on Tuesday proposes 74 market-rate residential units distributed between an L-shaped multi-story building with 60 units and 14 townhouses. The size of the units ranges from approximately 900 to 5,000 square feet.

The new plan refers to the project as Sunshine at Elkhorn Springs. A separate division of Greenfield is building a project in Elkhorn Village called Elkhorn Springs.

The Sunshine Parcel is situated on the west side of Village Way between Elkhorn Village and Sunburst Condominiums. It is in front of the Indian Springs condominiums, adjacent to the northern section of the Elkhorn Springs development.

At issue is whether the commission should consider the amended plans under the pending application or if the changes to the plan constitute a new application.

"At what point does an application change enough that it is a new application?" Commissioner Joan Lamb asked.

City Attorney Rand Peebles explained the city of Sun Valley does not have any criteria to evaluate if a new application is necessary given the changes to the project.

"This is not the same project, and it has nothing to do with it," said Barry Luboviski, an attorney representing residents of Sunburst.

The original application was submitted in 2002 by Blackacre Capital Management for a 111-unit development called Sun Villas. The application was later downsized to 105 units, in September 2003 to 97 units, and in November 2004 to 83 units. The commission finally tabled the application in December 2004.

Since the application's original submittal, the city has passed new ordinances, such as the Workforce Housing Ordinance, that would apply to the project if it were reviewed as a new application.

Hennessy said the project would experience hardships under the new ordinances, such as increased affordable-housing requirements, setback restrictions and commercial-space requirements.

"If we were under the new ordinance there would be more multi-story," Hennessy said. He asked for another continuance in order to consult with the owners of the property.

In the end, Commissioner Ken Herich made a motion to table the application to a July 26 work session. The commission voted unanimously in favor of the motion. Commissioner Phil Usher did not attend the meeting.

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