AURORA RAIL TALES: First light-rail residential project on track for 2016 start

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AURORA | Aurora’s first transit-oriented residential community should be breaking ground by 2016, according to developers.

“These are high-end market-rate units. We believe there will be demand and they will break ground as soon as possible,” said Michael Sheldon, a lawyer who is representing the developers Steelwave, LLC, and Norris design who have plans to transform infill land near the future Iliff light rail station into a millenial-enticing, modern apartment complex. 

Located at the northeast corner of South Anaheim Street and East Yale Avenue, south of the Regional Transportation District’s future Iliff Station light rail station, a 424 multi-family apartment complex is being planned that developers and city officials hope will attract young professionals, as well as those looking to live near a light rail hub.

The site sits on nearly 10 acres of vacant land. When built, the development will have 424 multi-family apartments spread across 18 buildings. Some buildings will be three stories, and others four, according to design plans. The complex will include 182 one-bedroom units, 182 two-bedroom units, and 60 three bedrooms apartments. 

In a letter introducing the project to the city, Norris Design described the development as one with a “high level of amenities and social interaction.” According to the firm, design plan includes a central park area that can be used as a great lawn/gathering area, an outdoor amphitheater, and playgrounds. Those amenities also include a 9,875-square-foot clubhouse replete with a pool and spa area and an indoor fitness center. The complex will also include walkable paths to the nearby light rail station.

“Playful colors are juxtaposed with muted ones on towers and recessed forms, adding vibrancy to the neighborhood without overpowering it,” said Norris Design in a letter to the city about the complex. “Earth toned masonry defines units and entry points, and also serves as a base that anchors to the building.”

Albert Melcher, a resident of the independent and assisted living facility, St. Andrew’s Village, located just across Anaheim Street street from the future apartment complex, said he is happy with the design, but concerned about more traffic coming to the area.

A traffic report prepared for SteelWave, LLC, the developer of the complex, showed Blackhawk street, located just east of the apartment complex would see the biggest traffic bump. According to the report, the intersection of Iliff Avenue and Blackhawk Street already serves 4,600 vehicles per hour during the peak evening rush hour. Blackhawk Street south of Iliff Avenue, is anticipated to receive the brunt of new traffic when the apartments are completed, and serve approximately 145 vehicles per hour during peak evening rush hour.

St. Andrews and residents of Heather Gardens, a  neighborhood that abuts the development, have also voiced concerns about the traffic that will be generated by a new 600-space, two-story parking garage set to open next to the light rail in 2016, near the future apartment complex. 

In a July article for “Heather ’n Yon,” a monthly news magazine for Heather Gardens residents, the neighborhood’s HOA President Forrest McClure wrote that it is disappointing to see only apartments come online as new TOD housing, with no ownership options.

The city will give final approval to the Iliff apartment plans on Oct. 28. The next Community Advisory Committee meeting about the proposed complex is set for 3:30 p.m. Sept. 9 at the Heather Gardens Boardroom at 2888 S. Heather Gardens Way, Aurora.