The Fort Collins City Council on Tuesday narrowly approved new zoning for the land where the old Hughes Stadium used to stand, leaving the door open to future development on what some residents have called the city’s “crown jewel.”
Council members voted 4-3 to adopt a recommendation from city staff to split the land in half, encouraging more development on the eastern side while attempting to preserve a buffer between new homes and the foothills to the west.
Planners said dividing up the land into different zoning classifications would balance the community’s need for more housing with a strong desire from residents to preserve open space.
“I think staff’s proposal is a good compromise,” said Emily Gorgol, a city councilwoman supporting the motion. “Having an opportunity to get affordable and attainable housing is important and our community has been asking for it.”
The approximately 165 acres of undeveloped land has attracted attention due to its historical significance and proximity to pristine natural areas to the west. Colorado State University, which owns the land, is in the process of selling it to a national home developer, Lennar Corporation.
City staff estimated the new zoning would allow for around 550 homes to be built.
The development effort has also become a lightning rod for broader community anxieties about growth. Dozens of residents spoke at Tuesday’s meeting, many expressing frustration with the process.
Leila Smith, a lifelong resident who lives near the Hughes site, said the area was the “gateway to Horsetooth Reservoir." She also worried about potentially negative consequences of building on the land.
“I feel like we don’t have the infrastructure to handle the amount of housing going in,” Smith said. “I don’t know what else citizens can do in our power than voice our opinion over and over and hope CSU doesn’t just do what they want again.”
Mike Hooker, a spokesman for CSU, said the university system supports plans to develop the land.
Kent Pederson, a representative for Lennar, said the company was excited to expand its brand in Fort Collins.
“We look forward to working with the city to try and make this a great community,” he said.