Two area developers have proposed market-rate housing in downtown Casper.
In response to requests from the city for proposals to develop the former Plains Furniture Properties, Casper’s Kevin Hawley and Brandon Daigle, both Downtown Development Authority Board members, submitted an $8 million proposal to build townhouses and row houses on the lot, a property they plan to call “The Nolan.”
Hawley and Daigle proposed the project under Flag Development LLC, an entity created specifically for the project, according to the proposal.
“Our first-hand experience of downtown has shown us that we have sufficient traditional office space and a large number of retail storefronts, but significantly lack market-rate housing,” their proposal reads.
The pair hope to turn the existing Plains Furniture building into “up to” 11 market-rate loft townhouses. Each of those units would be roughly 1,300 square feet and would include a mezzanine with a second bedroom, office or flex space and a private patio. They would also build seven three-story market-rate row houses. Those would be three-bedroom, two-bathroom units with roughly 1,760 square feet and would include a private garage, rooftop decks and a common green space, according to the proposal.
The project would also include turning the original historic Nolan Service Building into an 8,200 square foot office space.
The plan includes demolishing the Livery Stable to build a private parking lot for residents.
The pair proposed the same project earlier this year, but that proposal was rejected because it was for less than the property’s appraised value. The city has since changed the language on its request for proposals so that bids have to meet market-value, rather than appraised value, which was the previous requirement.
Given the language change, Daigle said he hopes the council approves the proposal this time around.
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The Plains property closed in 2016 and the city purchased it with plans to demolish it and build a parking lot in its place. It sold two parcels of the property to local business, but the discovery of intact relics from 1920s Casper — including a brick car dealership, a maintenance garage and a garage bay from the old Casper Fire Station No. 1 — halted the demolition plans.
Casper has conducted a number of studies over the past decade indicating a need for downtown housing options. Those studies include a 2008 Old Yellowstone District Master Plan, a 2012 Downtown Strategic Plan and a 2017 Generation Casper Comprehensive Plan. One of those studies estimated there could be demand for as many as 750 new housing units in the 100 acres of the Old Yellowstone District.
Daigle said those studies make Hawley and him confident of the need for downtown housing.
Casper Community Development Director Liz Becher said that number is closer to 550-600 now, but the need for housing is still very much relevant.
“After we get this residential thing kicked off, we’ll begin to see more retail development,” she said.
Becher said she believes the Plains property would be an excellent candidate for residential development.
“I think this parcel is ideally positioned for that,” she said.
The proposal estimates the development will create at least 75 construction jobs and result in more than $200,000 in sales tax from construction equipment purchases and downtown dining spending from the workers themselves.
In the long term, the proposal estimates the creation of at least 40 new jobs, 19 new property owners and $25,000 in annual property taxes.
The Council will discuss the proposal at its May 22 meeting.