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Thompson Park development plans ‘in a hiatus’

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By John Colson
Sopris Sun Staff Writer

The Thompson Park housing project, which has been in the works for nearly eight years, is likely to be reduced in scope in the coming weeks, according to town officials and developer Frieda Wallison of Basalt.

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The project, which initially was planned for a little more than 10 acres along Highway 133 between Triangle Park and the Keater Grove neighborhood, at one time was expected to result in construction of between 45 and 85 homes.

But over time the project was reduced, as Wallison sold a two-acre site for the newly built Ross Montessori School and turned the Historic Thompson House and its immediate surroundings over to the town to be used as a museum run by the Mt. Sopris Historical Society.

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As of a 2015 story in the Glenwood Springs Post Independent newspaper, the project’s scope had dropped to 27 units.

But according to Carbondale planner John Leybourne, the project is approved for up to 45 units, to be built in no more than four phases, “although they could do it in fewer phases.”

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He said Phase I of the project “actually turned out to be the school,” as far as the town was concerned, with the housing to come in later phases.

Starting in 2015, the water, sewer and other infrastructure were installed, to accommodate earlier construction of the school, which was completed last year, and in preparation for starting work on the housing.

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But in recent months, rumors have circulated around town that the project was in trouble, and at one point was put on hold.

“We’re in a hiatus,” confirmed Wallison recently, noting that construction was to have begun this spring now that the town has given all the necessary approvals.

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But the plans have changed, Wallison conceded.

She refuted rumors of financial difficulties, and said the delay and expected reconfiguration of the project are due to uncertainty about the housing market and about what types of housing would be most likely to meet the needs of prospective buyers.

She said she now plans to start with four units — three free-market townhouses and one affordable-housing townhouse — with a plan to proceed with construction of other units in the future.

Concerning the timing of her application to the town, she said, “We’re trying to do it as soon as we possibly can, because we’re anxious to start building. We want to start out with something to test the market.”

Town Manager Jay Harrington confirmed in an email that the town is expecting to hear from Wallison soon.

The revised plan, Harrington wrote, is expected to be “basically trying four units first,” and that “we should see an amended plat sometime in the near future.”

Leybourne said on May 2 that no plans showing the modified development schedule had been submitted to the town.

Published in The Sopris Sun on May 11, 2017. 
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