Nearly 300 Silverthorne residents sign petition against Maryland Creek Ranch
In two weeks, nearly 300 Silverthorne residents have signed an online petition speaking out against South Maryland Creek Ranch, a proposed residential development that drew ire from neighbors when the owner wanted to increase the density from 83 units to 240 units on 416 acres.
The petition was launched by Friends of the Lower Blue River, a nonprofit dedicated to preserving the natural beauty and rural appeal of the Blue River basin.
John Longhill, a local landscape architect and spokesman for FLBR, believes the Silverthorne Town Council and developer Tom Everist have not given the community solid rationale for the increased density.
“This density increase is not about stewardship and sustainability,” Longhill said. “It’s about making money, so by tripling the density the developer will see revenue in excess of $180 million. Our community is not benefitting in proportion to the increase.”
On March 14, the town council decided to delay the density approval, giving Everist and his team with South Maryland Creek Ranch time for community outreach. The developer held several public forums to explain slight tweaks to the original proposal, including a revised wildlife impact plan and several strategies to relieve traffic congestion during construction and after build out.
Everist is still asking for 240 units, nearly triple the original density approved in 2005. The development was stalled shortly after due to the economic crash in 2007. Residential planning has changed since then, the developer argues, and the new density proposal is in line with market demands for smaller homes clustered together on plots of land, as opposed to large “cookie cutter” properties.
Longhill was one of nearly 20 residents who spoke against the development at the March 14 meeting. He and other residents who signed the online petition would like to see the proposal put on the next ballot, much like residents opposed to the similarly contested Ruby Placer development in Blue River.
“First, we just want openness about why they think this will benefit the community,” Longhill said. “There is some perceived advantage to the town based on the town council’s wants and desires, but in the eyes of the community there is no valid reason for the density increase.”
The Silverthorne Town Council will make a final decision on the proposal at today’s council meeting. The meeting begins at 6 p.m. in council chambers at 601 Center Circle in Silverthorne.
OUTLETS HOSTS GRAND OPENING FOR SECOND COLORADO STORE LOCATION
The Colorado Store just moved into new digs.
On May 23, owners and native Coloradans Mike and Sue Halliburton opened the second location for The Colorado Store in the Outlets at Silverthorne. The new shop is located in the former Le Creuset unit, across from the Columbia store in Red Village. The Halliburtons will hold a grand opening on May 29 at 1 p.m., complete with cake and refreshments.
The new store will encompass a “Made in Colorado” theme. It will carry a delicious cornucopia of fresh-made sandwiches, salads, snacks and desserts, along with Colorado-made salsas, gourmet foods, mixes, beverages, coffees, tea and more.
To celebrate the opening, drop by the new store and receive a postcard good for a free 3-by-5 inch Colorado flag, redeemable at the original store in the Green Village next to the welcome center. No purchase necessary. Postcards are valid while supplies last.
COLORADO’S ‘FIX AND FLIP’ MARKET TAKES A HIT DURING RED-HOT HOUSING BOOM
A casualty of Denver’s hot real estate market is the once-lucrative practice of “fixing and flipping” distressed homes, The Denver Post reports.
Soaring housing values and a dearth of foreclosures leave investors with a shortage of properties suitable for buying on the cheap and reselling at big profits.
“Investors are chasing the same rainbow, but there’s not much left to chase,” said Glen Weinberg, owner and chief operating officer of Evergreen-based Fairview Commercial Lending.
“Too many people have gone to these Real Estate 101 classes where they supposedly teach you how to get rich quick,” he said. “But there’s not much distressed inventory in the Front Range left to buy.”
Fixing and flipping was a relatively easy source of income for investors when Colorado foreclosures reached record levels in 2008 and 2009. Lenders with bulging portfolios of defaulted loans were forced to accept lowball offers or auction bids. Investors could snatch up the homes, spend a few thousand dollars on renovations and sell for healthy profits.
That scenario has reversed now that Colorado foreclosures rates have dropped dramatically and home values are increasing at the fastest rate in the nation.
RealtyTrac reported Wednesday that Colorado foreclosure starts in April were down 44 percent from the same month last year.
“For flippers, part of the successful formula is to find discounted properties, and the biggest pool of those comes from foreclosures,” said Daren Blomquist, vice president of RealtyTrac.
In an even more telling indicator for flipping investors, foreclosed homes in metro Denver are now selling for close to market value.
According to RealtyTrac, lender-owned homes in metro Denver sold in April at 93 percent of market value. That leaves a very small spread for flippers to buy low and sell high.
Blomquist said the goal of a typical foreclosure investor is to buy properties at a 30 percent discount to market values.
RealtyTrac’s recent report on home flipping showed a first-quarter 47 percent decline in the share of Colorado homes that were purchased and resold within a 12-month period.
EXPERTS PREDICT A FEDERAL INTEREST RATE HIKE BY SEPTEMBER
During a high-level discussion about the outlook of the housing economy at the Mortgage Bankers Association’s National Secondary Market Conference, economists from Fannie Mae, Freddie Mac and the MBA all predicted that the Federal Reserve will begin raising the Federal Funds Rate at some point this year, most likely in September, which will drive an increase in interest rates.
Housing Wire reporter Ben Lane spoke with Michael Fratantoni, the MBA’s chief economist and senior vice president of research and industry technology, and Leonard Kiefer, Freddie Mac’s deputy chief economist, who joined Fannie Mae’s chief economist, Doug Duncan, at the MBA conference. Each said that they are projecting interest rates to rise above 4 percent this year.
But all three economists agreed that despite the projected rise in interest rates, 2015 is still looking to be a strong year for housing. And the economists all said that 2016 will be even better.
With the expected increase in interest rates, the share of refinance originations will likely fall, the economists said, but the strength of the refinance originations share in 2015’s first two quarters should help to carry this year.
Later, in a meeting with reporters, Fratantoni said that the MBA expects the Fed to raise rates in September, but predicts “heightened” interest rate volatility throughout the rest of this year.
Fratantoni provided reporters with a look at the MBA’s mortgage finance forecast for the rest of 2015. According to the MBA’s forecast, the interest rate for a 30-year fixed-rate mortgage will top 4 percent this quarter, ending at 4.1 percent.
In the third quarter, the MBA predicts interest rates will rise to 4.3 percent, and the MBA predicts that we will end 2015 with interest rates at 4.4 percent.
In 2016, the MBA projected interest rate climbs to 4.6 percent in the first quarter, 4.8 percent in the second quarter, 5.0 percent in the third quarter and 5.3 percent in the fourth quarter.
But despite those increases, the MBA predicts that housing starts, new home sales, and existing home sales will all rise from now through the end of 2016.
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