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Signs of life in real estate

In January, the El Paso County Board of County Commissioners extended final platting of Meridian Ranch Filing 6, giving the developer another two years to make decisions.Although many developers, especially larger companies, have a tough time making decisions about the future in a down economy, some smaller developers are starting to make some moves.Last March, Matt and Joy Russell received final plat approval from the BOCC to subdivide the 80-acre parcel they live on into 14 5-acre parcels with individual wells and septic systems.The development, called Armonia Ranch, is within the Black Forest Preservation Plan and located at the northwest corner of the intersection of Goodson Road and Burgess Road.At the end of 2009, the Russells completed construction of the first cul-de-sac into the development. The paved road provides access to five lots, Matt Russell said.”We’re not big time developers. We wanted to create something in its natural state,” he said.Many developers rezone for 2.5 or 3-acre lots with community space, such as walking paths and open space. It may average out to 5 acres per lot but with more density in a smaller area, Russell said.”We’re zoned RR-5 with 5-plus-acre lots completely forested with 70 ft. pine trees. We wanted the lots to be spaced out for privacy.”Some developments claim you’re allowed to have horses, but they don’t tell you the horses are required to be in little runs; whereas, we allow pasturing.”The final plat for Armonia Ranch includes a second cul-de-sac on Goodson Road, midway between Burgess Road and Ayer Road.Development of parcels to the north of the Russells’ property will include an extension of Ayer Road, where it curves sharply to become Goodson Road.”That’s a pretty dangerous intersection that’s going to be fixed. Ayer Road is going to head west and then curve to the northwest,” Russell said, allowing for the construction of a third cul-de-sac into Armonia Ranch.He said he plans to sell the lots from between $325,000 and $370,000; one lot is already reserved for $350,000.Another small developer, Michael Devers, president of Aviation Builders Inc., is making a move in Ellicott.Devers plans to subdivide a 35-acre lot on Log Road, next to Springs East Airport, into a 10-parcel development called Springs East Airpark.The BOCC approved Dever’s preliminary plan and final plat at their Jan. 28 meeting.Each parcel will consist of 2.5 acres for a house, a half-acre for an airplane hangar and another half-acre for a common taxiway that will connect to the Springs East Airport runway, Devers said.”Airplane kit manufacturers have really advanced in the last 10 years, so there’s a lot of people who want to build their own plane and fly it from their home,” he said.Devers has already gotten calls from private pilots in Colorado and Texas.”These [people] are addicts. Every call I’ve gotten, it’s all about what provisions I have for the airplane,” he said. “They don’t really consider the house. It’s always about the hangar and the airplane first.”Devers said he plans to market the lots for $100,000.”That’s actually the lowest [price] here on the Front Range. There’s not that many [lots] to choose from,” he said.Like his target market, Devers is a pilot who wants to build his own airplane.He and his wife, who live in Colorado Springs, are planning to move to the airpark and might eventually run a bed and breakfast on the property, catering to private pilots flying cross country.”They look for a place with overnight tie downs, and they prefer to sleep with their airplane. The airplane will be parked on the property and the room will be right there,” Devers said.”You’ve got to love airplane noise, and you’ll really know your neighbor because you’ll have everything in common.”Devers said he’s been thinking about developing the land as an airpark for about three years and working hard at it for about a year and a half.”It’s been a long road, trust me,” he said.

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