Last spring, a group of University of Colorado Denver graduate students evaluated the feasibility of utilizing four local land holdings as future parcels for an affordable housing complex. A property owned by Climax Mine, which was first identified as an option in the 2018 Economic Planning Systems’ housing needs assessment, emerged as the students’ top contender.
A different set of graduate students returned to Leadville last week to present design considerations for the Climax parcel, in addition to other affordable-housing recommendations.
The Climax property is a wooded parcel just northeast of Lake County Intermediate School. The site is bordered by James St., the Mineral Belt Trail, an undeveloped Lake County School District property and McWethy Drive. The parcel would likely need to be donated, traded or bought in order to pursue affordable housing on the site.
The students’ conceptual drawings include over 100 residential units: a mix of duplexes, townhomes and apartments on the east and west side of James St. Other recommendations included building a community center and recreation area on site, realigning James St., and submitting the project as a planned unit development to ensure zoning flexibility.
Residential infill and redevelopment within the city limits could also widen Leadville’s housing inventory.
According to the CU Denver students, about 82 percent of homes in Leadville are single-family detached. Greater density could be achieved through constructing new multi-unit structures on vacant lots, adding accessory dwelling units to properties and redeveloping old buildings into apartments.
Students also recommended creating a mixed-use zone district along the southern corridor of U.S. 24 to incentivize both residential and commercial development.
One group created a pricing tool to help stakeholders gather estimates on what it might take for Lake County to connect to the Fremont Pass Recreation Trail to the north and the Stage & Rail Trail to the south.
A different group recommended rezoning Lake County’s manufactured-home parks to residential. The county’s three manufactured-home parks, which make up approximately 16% of the local housing stock, are currently zoned commercial and could be purchased or redeveloped with no public hearing.
Students also suggested implementing a county-wide transportation utility fee to help fund infrastructure maintenance.
“We have a good history of implementing ideas in Lake County,” Build a Generation Director Katie Baldassar told the students, citing the LCSD playgrounds designed by University of Colorado Boulder students years back. “I hope you come back in 10 years and see what happened.”