Better with age: 800-acre development clears big hurdle

Thornton unanimously passes zoning change for Parterre development

Liam Adams
ladams@coloradocommunitymedia.com
Posted 2/10/21

Thornton City Council took a major step towards a nearly 800-acre proposed development in northeast Thornton by unanimously approving a zoning amendment at the Feb. 9 meeting. Located immediately …

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Better with age: 800-acre development clears big hurdle

Thornton unanimously passes zoning change for Parterre development

Posted

Thornton City Council took a major step towards a nearly 800-acre proposed development in northeast Thornton by unanimously approving a zoning amendment at the Feb. 9 meeting.

Located immediately west of Todd Creek, Parterre, the development project, will occupy five parcels and include more than 4,100 residential units as well as commercial property. The zoning amendment council passed is technically a revision to existing rights that the council granted Hines, the main developer, in 2008.

If the council had not approved the zoning amendment on Feb. 9, Hines could still have built the 4,100-plus units because of a zoning amendment council passed in 2008. Parterre's anticipated impacts on Thornton, such as water and traffic, wouldn't have changed either. However, what the council approved on Feb. 9 is an upgrade, at least according to city councilors.

“The 2008 plan, back then, was good. I think what we have now is so much better,” said Mayor Jan Kulmann. Councilman David Acunto, who represents the ward Parterre will be in, called the amendment a “significant improvement.”

Hines originally presented the new amendment to the council at a Nov. 17 meeting. However, enough councilors weren't on board that they didn't approve it that night. Councilman Sam Nizam was worried about the size of Quebec Street, one of the neighborhood's main roads.

The majority of Parterre will be north of 144th Avenue, south of 152nd Avenue and west of Quebec St. Councilman Adam Matkowsky voted against the amendment Nov. 17 because he felt that Hines representatives displayed a “...generic lack of respect for Thornton and our history.”

Hines withdrew the application that night.

The Feb. 9 application was similar to the one presented in November but had additional modifications. The version the council ultimately approved allows for a greater variety of housing — compared to the 2008 zoning — including single-family detached homes, duplexes, townhomes and multi-family units, such as apartments. In turn, some homes might cost $300,000, which is less than many property values in the surrounding area, described Chad Murphy, a Hines representative. The 2008 zoning also planned to build the community around 11 oil wells. The new amendment abandons and plugs up those wells. It also adds 12 new acres of commercial property and widens Quebec.

In response to Matkowsky's Nov. 17 comment about the developer lacking respect, Hines will put up educational signage in Parterre about Thornton's history, Murphy said.

The council members who were skeptical at the Nov. 17 meeting had a different tone Feb. 9.

“Thank you again for working with me and reaching out … We went miles from the last time, I really appreciate what you have done,” said Nizam, who also represents the ward Parterre will go in.

Long term planning

Parterre still has a long road ahead. Its projected timeline for completion is 10 to 20 years. Comparing then to now, Murphy said, “it's difficult to grasp the size and magnitude of what it's going to be.”

The police department will need to add a new division with 17 additional officers and the fire department projects 434 calls annually from that area. Brighton-based 27J Schools will have a new school there. Hines is already talking to grocery chains for a future grocery anchor.

The city's water demand will increase by 10 percent, which the city currently doesn't have the raw water for. That will depend on the completion of the Thornton Water Project, a pipeline carrying water from Larimer County to Thornton.

A lot needs to happen before Parterre is truly part of Thornton, but the passage of the Feb. 9 zoning amendment was a significant move in that direction. The most immediate next step is for the council to approve revisions to a metropolitan district plan, which Hines will present at a Feb. 23 meeting.

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