FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Traditionally, Old Town Fort Collins has been home to historic, affordable homes filled with people attracted to the charm of the area and those who work close-by.
That atmosphere appears to be rapidly changing.
“It was pretty cheap, but in the almost decade that I’ve lived here, I’ve seen rents triple, so definitely some growing pains,” said Jessica Sylvester, who rents in Old Town. “I like that it’s close to work, I work in Old Town, so it’s like a five-minute bike ride to work. One of the selling points to this place is that it’s affordable, so I pay $1,090 for a two bedroom, it’s a duplex, it’s not the best, but it’s something that I can afford almost.”
If you drive down streets like Mountain Avenue, some of the changes are clear.
New, larger homes are being built on properties that once were home to smaller bungalows.
Doug Bennett, a home builder who lives on North Whitcom Avenue, is responsible for construction on several new homes on that block. He believes change is good for the area.
“Absolutely, at some point many of the homes... they need to be updated whether that is structurally or whether that is an energy conservation standpoint or just from a looks standpoint,” said Bennett. “We find that there’s a little bit of animosity there at the beginning, but then as things go on and they see what we’re trying to do and they see that we’re trying to keep things, you know, soft and gentle, we don’t want to impose.”
In June, the Fort Collins Preservation Commission will vote on whether or not to raze several Old Town properties. Those properties will likely turn into larger, newer builds.
Meg Dunn is chair of that commission and disagrees with the new development.
“Every time you tear a house down and throw it into the landfill, it can undo decades of a households recycling efforts in one fail swoop and you’re replacing all of the embodied energy in that house with all new materials,” said Dunn. “A lot of people are saying they want to build a new house to make it energy efficient and yet to get it to that point, they’re using -- expending a tremendous amount of energy and using a lot of resources.”
Dunn said the new development may also drive out long-time Old Town residents who won’t be able to afford their homes anymore.
“If you’re in a little house on a fixed income, you’ve been living there for maybe 40 years and somebody scrapes the house next to you and rebuilds it, that’s worth a lot more now, your property tax just shot way up,” said Dunn. “We keep going that route, we will have an entirely new downtown that is irreplaceable, you can’t just plop a new old house down, it takes 50 years to create an old house and we’re losing these authentic original pieces of the city.”
Denver7 found older homes in Old Town listing around $350,000 and new homes listing upwards of $800,000.