After nearly 16 years of planning, development plans for a 270-acre swath of land at the intersection of Butler Avenue and Fourth Street are nearing fruition, and new homes could be under construction as soon as 2020.
Investors who own the property are asking the city for a rezoning of 26 acres before the project moves forward, said Brian Rhoton, one of the owners of Capstone Homes, which is managing the property on behalf of investors.
Rhoton said many of the single-family houses built on the site could be on the lower end of the price range and the site could make significant additions to the city’s stock of available apartments.
Investors bought the Canyon Del Rio property in 2002 from the state and immediately began work on developing the site.
Since then, development has occurred on about 45 acres of Canyon Del Rio, with a few apartment buildings constructed on the northern edge.
But the plans for the land’s development go much further back, all the way to 1983, when the state created a specific plan to help encourage the purchase of the property.
The current plans have strayed very little from the original 1983 state plans except in one main respect, Rhoton said. The area near the north and center of the property is currently zoned for light industrial but the developers hope to change that. Instead they want to build high-density residential and commercial in the area.
This would mean corner stores, office buildings, apartments and possibly some small retail buildings in the north and center of the site, bordering Butler. Although the site itself is mixed use, Rhoton said, they don’t expect mixed-use buildings.
“Right now, everything is really conceptual,” Rhoton said during a phone call.
Within the city’s regional plan, which was ratified by voters in 2014, the city identifies the area as being suitable for large amounts of residential growth despite the current light-industrial zoning. It also points to the site as a potential spot for future “activity centers,” places that draw people to them from the immediate surroundings, and to a lesser extent, from across town.
Without the zoning change Capstone has requested, Rhoton said, about 30 percent of the project is ready for development, but that is not the only aspect of the project they are waiting on. There also are a number of public infrastructure improvements that need to be started prior to or concurrent with construction.
Much of the city waterworks system needs to be improved in the area. The intersection of Butler and Fourth Street is also in a flood plain and needs major improvements, including being raised in order to mitigate the effects of flooding.
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The city plans on extending Fourth Street to create a South Fourth Street that will make its way down to the Rio de Flag. Rhoton said they are partnering with the city, providing some of the capital to complete some of these projects.
Should everything go as planned, the city could see the construction of these improvements and the start of some development in the area within one and a half to two years.
In all, the development could provide around 1,100 units, with about 500 of those being single-family homes and 600 being apartment units.
They don’t expect student housing developments on the site.
For single-family homes, Rhoton said, they expect a wide range in pricing depending on the developer and the site. Due to the size of many of the parcels, much of the housing stock could be in a medium to lower price range.
Most of the parcels within Canyon Del Rio are fairly small, with few large parcels that could accommodate very large single-family homes. As such, Rhoton said, prices will likely range from around $200,000 to above $500,000.
They are, however, working with the city’s Community Land Trust Program to create around 80 “affordable” units, with additional affordable units scattered around other developments within the site as developers see fit, Rhoton said.
Building on the property by various developers could continue for 15 to 20 years as developers present plans on different parts of the 270-acre site.
Like other projects Capstone is working on, Rhoton said they expect houses to meet Department of Energy standards and be net zero ready.
Rhoton said rezoning cases are always somewhat up in the air, especially in Flagstaff, but he is confident the city is in support given the amount of time they have been working on the project. Rhoton added he believes the development could help the city with a lack of available housing stock.
In 2013, a second large development was planned adjacent to Canyon Del Rio on land owned by the Little America Hotel, but that is now on hold with no immediate plans to resurrect the project, said Little America General Manager Fred Reese.