Home > Elected Officials, Flagstaff, New Media, Northern Arizona, Politics > Aspen Heights Student Housing Project Located In Urban Activity Center

Aspen Heights Student Housing Project Located In Urban Activity Center

By Elisha Dorfsmith

Today’s edition of the Arizona Daily Sun has a large collection of letters and editorials opposing the proposed Aspen Heights Student Housing Project. Among the arguments made are concerns that this project is not right for Flagstaff and that it does not fit the area where it is proposed.

What you won’t find in the Daily Sun is the fact that the Flagstaff Regional Plan 2030, which was unanimously approved by the Flagstaff City Council and overwhelmingly supported by Flagstaff voters, has the area where Aspen Heights is proposed listed as an Urban Activity Center.  For those who don’t know, the Regional Plan is a guiding document for the council to use when they make decisions, including re-zoning decisions.

What is an Urban Activity Center according to the Regional Plan? Here’s what the Plan has to say:

“An urban activity center holds the greatest densities of housing and intensities of commercial and retail space, yet it is still appropriately designed for the region, contextual in scale and form, and architecturally compliments the environment and views. Even the most urban areas of Flagstaff have amazing views of the mountains, and respecting those viewsmaintains our unique sense of place. Higher densities and maintaining views may seem like a contradiction, but it is a matter of thoughtful and sensitive design. Urban activity centers have the densities that make transit work while providing the creative places and where the social interactions desired by today’s and tomorrow’s workforce can occur.”

The Coconino County discussion goes even further and addresses Student Housing in the context of Urban Activity Centers. They point out Regional Plan policy LU.18.4 which says:

“Encourage developers to provide activity centers and corridors with housing of various types and price points, especially attached and multi‐family housing.”

This is exactly what the proposed Aspen Heights project provides. Those who say this project is not in line with the Regional Plan 2030 are either ignorant or intentionally being deceptive.

Bottom line, The Flagstaff City Council said, and voters agreed, that this type of student housing project is right for the area it is being proposed in.


The Aspen Heights project is proposed in the U7 section of this map which is an Urban Activity Center.  A link to this map, which is part of the Regional Plan 2030, can be found HERE.


  1. JK
    November 23, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    Here are some of my concerns. We need more student housing, plain and simple. It has to be built somewhere. “Single family” residential housing in Flagstaff, specifically rentals, are very over priced. This is in large part do to the simple supply and demand effect of not having enough units available for both students and full time residents. It is ridiculous to have rental housing rates going for $1800+ for a dilapidated 3 bedroom, one bath home, with single pane windows and a gas bill in excess of $390 in the winter months. Even though this may be great for the minority who own rental property, it is terrible for our community as a whole.

    Here is an aside:
    Fellow liberals, why don’t you in support reasonable and fair housing rates? (yes some of you give political lip service to it, but..) Is this something that is too much for you to think logically about? I bet that you are too preoccupied with voting for those new city council members that are all about “Shared Prosperity”, and that you aren’t really interested in the facts. PLEASE WAKE THE “F” UP!!

    I too have concerns for Dark Sky compliance. But If Aspen Heights, which as already committed to an approx. 200,000 lumen cap, what is the problem? I have to say the politics in this town are very suspect. Self-important, nanny-staters run rampant.

    Wake up and grow up Flagstaff.

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