Granby’s Shorefox gets a design makeover
July 15, 2011
GRANBY – The Colorado River carves through a rolling green landscape.
A massive concrete bridge with rustic wooden accents spans the full river below.
Geese swim in a large pond that holds material once destined to become a man-made island to which people could canoe or use as a fishing platform.
There are remnants of a golf course where no round has ever been played: a designed cart path, weed-grown tee boxes, and white sprinkler heads dotting acres of what could have been course fairways.
Loaded into a small bus driven by Granby Town Manager Wally Baird, town officials embarked on a field trip on July 12 to what was formerly a bustling construction area, an ambitious development project.
The development stopped short, devoid of the planned 100-unit hotel along the main pond, high-end homes in a gated community to the north, or 50,000 square-feet of commercial space selling gear to anglers, hunters and well-heeled outdoorsmen and women.
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The planned development remains a ghost of what never was as nature slowly reclaims the property.
Cattle now graze on the once-proposed “gated community,” land leased by a local rancher.
This 1,550 acres of raw Colorado was once abandoned, but never orphaned.
When CNL Lifestyle Properties Inc. of Orlando, Fla. – the lender that foreclosed on the property – acquired the land longer than two years ago, like most lenders, it didn’t understand what it had or what work had been done, said Brent Pearson, principal of Resort Ventures West of Steamboat Springs, the company contracted to assess and manage the development.
What both Ventures West and CNL learned was “shocking” to them in terms of the amount of infrastructure that was in place, Pearson said.
All the workings for a sculpted 18-hole golf course are installed. The land holds a fully operational irrigation system and all the makings of a course save for final seeding and sodding. The new owners have learned that at the time of foreclosure, the golf course was roughly 85 to 90 percent complete.
It’s now overrun with vegetation, but that doesn’t faze Granby Police Chief Bill Housely, a participant in the tour.
“Hey Greg,” he joked to a Granby Trustee on the bus. “We’re used to golfing in the rough; we could golf this.”
Although the sole structure built on the property is a pumphouse with three “massive” pumps, the once-Shorefox property has all water and sewer mains, hydrants throughout, man-made ponds, completed bridges on the cart path and one impressive bridge over the Colorado River, as well as rock retaining walls, piles of fill material and a large gravel pit functioning like a pond.
Since Resort Ventures is approaching future development with fresh eyes, such fixtures can at times be a constraint to work with, Malia said, “much like a cliffband or a river.”
Having gathered information on the existing conditions of the property, having conducted a marketing study and three months of design planning sessions involving builders, new planners and townspeople, Resort Ventures and CNL introduced a preliminary plan on July 5.
This time around, no gated community, said Pearson along with Gavin Malia, development manager of Resort Ventures West.
Pearson and Malia pitched a “realistic approach to growth for the town of Granby” with flexible ideas for development “phased in over the long-term.”
“It’s not what was planned before for here,” Malia said.
The new plan calls for “an extension of the town of Granby,” with smaller, more attainable homes built surrounding the ponds and with views of the Colorado River. But no homes would be along the Colorado River in order to protect the riparian corridor, Malia said.
Near the entrance along Highway 34 and along a portion of Highway 40, the plan calls for a noted departure from what was originally envisioned on Shorefox land: roughly 12 acres of an RV park, something the new developers said they heard was sorely needed in Granby given the attraction to public lands in the area.
More acreage is set aside for some possible commercial, such as a “sportsman oriented” retailer.
Granby leaders seemed to warm to these ideas. Trustee Greg Mordini agreed the plans were “a more realistic approach” than what had been proposed before.
“Times were different then,” said Trustee Deb Shaw, referring to the Orvis Shorefox vision.
“We still weren’t ready for a gated community,” responded Trustee Ed Raffety.
And the golf course? Not in the plans, at least for the short-term, Malia said. Granby already has enough golf courses.
But what to do with all the infrastructure that cries for a golf course?
Perhaps the idea will be revisited in the future, he said. The market will tell.
– Tonya Bina can be reached at 970-887-3334 ext.19603.