Community nodes could be Windsor’s future
July 1, 2017
Visit Windsor in 10 years and the once-small town might be a little difficult to recognize at first.
Windsor has seen drastic growth over the past decade, and most officials agree the town won't stop growing anytime soon.
Current population estimates put the town at a little more than 26,000 residents. Population forecasts predict as many as 32,588 people in town by 2025, and by 2030, Windsor could have as many as 36,870 residents.
Those are careful estimates based on projections from the U.S. Census and the Colorado State Demographers Office. According to Windsor's Senior Planner Josh Olhava, those projections use a conservative growth rate of 2.5 percent after 2020. However, it's not unreasonable to assume Windsor will experience years with far more growth.
Although Windsor's population will grow, Olhava said residents have made it clear they want to keep a small-town feel. Town officials have plans to direct growth in such a way as to keep Windsor's small-town feeling intact.
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Windsor's Comprehensive Plan — which lays out the town's vision of the future and how officials plan to get there — has a focus on developing new community nodes.
The idea is to develop small, commercial neighborhoods and community markets in tandem with new or expanding residential areas, Olhava said.
Downtown Windsor already exists as its own node. West Windsor is ripe for development, he said.
Developers have already begun looking at expanding houses near Windsor's western boundary, and they have master plans that include neighborhood commercial options.
"You have the big malls on both ends, but they're seeing these areas as serving the local residential neighborhoods," Olhava said.
Community markets would likely include a combination of goods, services and stores designed to meet the immediate needs of nearby residents and draw some interstate traffic and shoppers, he said.
"So (residents) don't have to drive to Timnath, Fort Collins, Loveland, or needing to drive all the way in to the town core to get their goods and services," Olhava said. "A lot of residents like the idea of being able to walk or take short commutes and not have to drive everywhere."
Three areas sit ripe to begin nodal development — two on the town's western edge and one more to the east. According to Olhava, there's a lot of potential for growing residential and commercial development at the Interstate 25 and Colo. 392 interchange, at Windsor's section of Crossroads Boulevard near I-25, and at Harmony Road and Colo. 257.
The comprehensive plan accounts for that development. However, it will happen only if the residential market drives the need.
A few projects have already begun to push toward those new neighborhood centers.
Work between Windsor and Fort Collins officials over the past few years created development standards and a vision for potential developments at the Colo. 392 and I-25 interchange.
And to the south along Crossroads Boulevard lies land targeted for Martin Lind's The Brands development in southwest Windsor.
This past year, Lind announced The Brands, a $500 million retail, entertainment and lifestyle center in Loveland and Windsor south of The Ranch. The proposed vision for Windsor's section, called The Brands East, includes retail, apartments, a medical facility and more.
As those nodes fill out, much of Windsor's future will include filling in undeveloped or underdeveloped areas of town.
Many of these areas exist surrounded by or close to existing infrastructure and buildings and need just a little work, such as extending a road or adding an entrance to an area to enable its development and connect it to the town, Olhava said.
On the west side of Windsor's developed main street, past the grocery stores, commercial development continues to push farther into that corridor. Eventually, if new businesses keep springing up there, development will run into flood plan areas and break up the expansion. However, between those areas of development and existing subdivisions sits land that will likely stand ready for infill development, especially in 10 years.
As more people move to Windsor, the town will need to keep expanding its recreational facilities to accommodate that growth, said Eric Lucas, director of Windsor's Parks, Recreation and Culture Department.
With the direction town officials decided to move, Windsor should complete its final five neighborhood parks in the next decade and continue to build out its larger community parks — expanding two and building four more, he said.
Along with building parks, the town's trail system and network of pedestrian paths will expand in coming years, too, Lucas said.