Journal of Housing & Community Development

Award of Excellence: Village on Redwood

October 7, 2019

Housing Catalyst wins a 2018 Award of Excellence in Project Design for the Village on Redwood project, a collaborative effort that brought affordable and energy-efficient housing to the City of Fort Collins. Nominated from among the NAHRO Award of Merit winners each year, the Awards of Excellence winners are chosen by national juries and honored at the annual National Conference and Exhibition in October. They represent the very best in innovative programs in assisted housing and community development. 

The Village on Redwood project began when the City of Fort Collins Natural Areas staff approached Housing Catalyst with the idea of building affordable housing on part of a promising site. Housing Catalyst purchased the land with the intention of creating a welcoming, durable, and sustainable community that would fit well within the surrounding neighborhood. 

The Village on Redwood design process began as a collaborative charrette between two architecture firms, University of Colorado architecture students, the City of Fort Collins Planning and Natural Areas staff, a civil engineer, a general contractor and Housing Catalyst’s development, maintenance and property management staff.  The initial design goals established for Village on Redwood were to:  

  • Create a welcoming housing community with high-quality amenities  
  • Build homes and buildings to serve residents for many years to come  
  • Design common spaces for resident enjoyment and to create a strong sense of community  
  • Create maximum energy efficiency and sustainability with the available resources  
  • Create homes that would give people a sense of pride  
  • Design it to fit well within the surrounding neighborhood 

The collaborative design process helped Housing Catalyst build relationships with the design team and project stakeholders, which led to better design collaboration and project execution during development.  

The project moved forward after disaster relief funds were made available to the county, which was damaged by fires and floods in 2012 and 2013. Housing Catalyst took the design that had been produced at the Housing Colorado design charrette and presented it to the neighborhood surrounding the project’s potential site. The community responded positively to the plans – except for the parking lot locations, which were redesigned in response to their input.  The Village’s exteriors and colors were designed to blend in with the neighborhood’s single-family homes. 

The Village is a combination of 72 townhomes and apartments with 1, 2, 3 and 4-bedroom floorplans. In order to meet the high demand for affordable housing for families while maximizing density, so the developers maximized the number of townhomes on the site and also built a number of apartments. Providing the apartments with desirable features such as larger floorplans and balconies helped make the apartments as appealing as the townhomes to prospective residents.  

The Village features several shared areas, including a green space and a community clubhouse in the development’s center. The clubhouse’s fitness room overlooks the adjacent playground, allowing parents to watch their children play while they exercise. It’s located in what’s now known as the Goose Hollow Natural Area, which features a beautiful pond and a public walking trail. 

The buildings were designed with Fort Collins Utilities Integrated Design Assistance Program (IDAP) and were built to be cost-effective, durable, easier to maintain, and energy-efficient. The features include:  

  • Hard surface flooring, zero VOC paint, and NAUF (No added urea formaldehyde) wood products to improve indoor air quality; 
  • High efficiency, sealed combustion tankless water heaters; 
  • Oversized, high-performance windows;  
  • Ceiling fans to enhance livability and reduce the use of air conditioning;  
  • 100% built-in LED or CFL lighting  
  • Programmable thermostats to control temperature setbacks and prevent wasteful behavior  
  • A key fob entry system that improves security and reduces life cycle cost;  
  • “Smart” framing construction to reduce the amount of lumber used; 
  • Energy Star appliances; 
  • High-efficiency air conditioning systems; 
  • Low flow plumbing fixtures;  
  • EWPs (engineered wood products) to reduce wood use and waste;  
  • Water-efficient landscaping; and 
  • Extensive Low Impact Development (LID) water quality features. 

 The fully xeriscaped landscaping maintenance with rock mulch, native grasses, and drought-tolerant plants provides additional long-term durability. 

The Village also provides access to a walkable community and public transportation, including: 

  • A public bus stop two blocks from the property; 
  •  A bike-share station that provides 10 bikes for residents or the public to borrow for short-term use located in an area with wide, safe bike lanes and community connectivity; and 
  • A large shopping area with a major grocery store, downtown Fort Collins, various community services such as medical clinics, dental clinics, mental health services and county social services offices within a one-mile radius of the development. 

Village on Redwood is now a thriving community of 150 residents. Housing Catalyst and their partners were able to fulfill their vision of incorporating affordable housing with its natural environment and creating a livable and sustainable community.  

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