Construction chatter out on the west side of Truckee is — or was before the snow came — the beginnings of Elements at ColdStream, a planned community just south of the Donner Pass Road/I-80 interchange.

The project was originally conceived roughly 18 years ago and adopted by the Truckee Town Council in September 2014. It will provide 300 residential units (48 of which will be affordable housing), a village center, and open space.

But first, it needs to be built, and movement is underway to make that happen.

“The construction that people are seeing that’s out there is really infrastructure,” said Jenna Gatto, Town of Truckee planning manager. “Curbs, gutters, utilities paving, that type of stuff. Infrastructure for future development.”

Part of the infrastructure prep included dynamic compaction — dropping a heavy object from a crane to compact soil enough to build on. Gatto said a few people called in with questions and curiosity while that was happening, but for the most part, locals in the area have been aware of the details of the project for a long time.

PHASED IN: ColdStream, phase 3, is called the village, currently being prepped for construction. Within this phase will be 48 affordable housing units, 58 single-family units, four live-work units, and 20 commercial sites. Rendering courtesy Stonebridge Properties

The 48-unit affordable housing portion is first on the docket for vertical movement, with ground expected to break next spring, post-snow. Construction on multi- and single-family homes is also planned to begin in 2020, to continue into 2021.

And during the imminent winter, model homes are expected to be built, said Mike Isle, senior project manager with Teichert Land Co. and Stonebridge Properties — or at least get a head start on them.

“For next construction season, the intent would be to get the affordable housing project constructed,” he said. “… a number of [the 58 single-family housing units] would be constructed as well.”

Those specific numbers arose from the amount of commercial and inclusionary housing requirements based on market rate, explained Gatto.

“I would say people are very excited about the idea of 48 [affordable housing] units, particularly in a part of town where we don’t have a lot of affordable housing. [And] there’ll be a transit station that’ll get installed,” she said.

The intent of ColdStream 18 years ago remains the focus today, Isle told Moonshine Ink, as an infill re-use project that incorporates “some of the best of Truckee,” Isle said.

ANOTHER DAY, ANOTHER DEVELOPMENT: ColdStream construction has thus far been civil improvement, said Mike Isle, senior project planner. “Grading, sewer and water, electric and associated services, and roads,” all preparatory work so that the housing sites can begin construction come spring 2020. Photo courtesy Mike Isle

“What I mean by that is open space, recreation, and really a diverse range of housing built around those opportunities,” he said. “… ColdStream is a former mining site; it was operated for a number of years to provide construction materials for the North Tahoe region. Our desire was to take that former site and reuse it and transform it into something that could really be productive for the North Tahoe/Truckee region.”

Since the Town of Truckee’s adoption, only minor changes have been made to the project, including small shifts to the underlying subdivision and adding residential housing while taking away commercial square footage (“There was not a strong enough market for the commercial square footage and there was a strong market for residential,” Gatto said).

And the five-year gap between adoption and construction? A time for project implementation, said Isle.

“It’s everything that leads up to the construction: the state grant, additional financing, locating the appropriate builders (the affordable housing builders as well as the single-family builders),” he explained. “All those important components that go into taking off the construction project.”

As for project pushback, Gatto said that during the 2014 adoption process, neighbors on Deerfield Drive were not entirely supportive of the planned community “because it would increase the traffic on their street.” There were also environmental concerns identified in the project’s Environmental Impact Report, which were either mitigated or found that nothing could be done other than not develop at all.

Main Image Caption: SNOW? NO PROBLEM: Despite Tahoe winters, there are plans to build model homes for Elements at ColdStream in advance of the spring 2020 construction season. Photo by Wade Snider/Moonshine Ink