Bailey: Fort Collins needs to expand upwards

Fynn Bailey

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

As can be seen by the state of traffic, Fort Collins has grown. According to the state’s population projections, the Fort Collins-Loveland Metropolitan statistical area is expected to double in population size over the next forty years. Looking past how all those new people are going to keep disturbing traffic and shopping areas, the biggest question is “Where are they all going to go?”


Fort Collins is growing fast, and our past ways of expanding outwards can’t keep up. It’s time we started building up.

At this time, Fort Collins doesn’t plan on annexing any new territory and the city is already starting to bump into other surrounding towns. So there is no where else to build and we’re not planning on growing in land size in the immediate future. The option left is to build up. 

The vast majority of homes in Fort Collins and Larimer County are single family detached houses, according to the county’s housing needs assessment report. In 2007, there were 30,000 single family homes and around 14,000 multi-unit housing options in Fort Collins’ city limits. 

Fort Collins has 70 percent of all multi-unit housing options in the county. More apartments are being built near campus, but not all around town. Colorado State University students are just one housing populous that needs cheaper rent and more options and have no ability to afford Fort Collins high home costs. 

In the past, we’ve had the room to expand outwards and build so many homes, but that is no longer sustainable. There isn’t enough space to do that for another 200,000-300,000 people. The Fort Collins City Plan covers this and many of the other challenges Fort Collins will face as the population swells and our emissions with it.

It doesn’t have to be 20-30 stories like those in bigger cities, such as Denver, but more 10-15 story buildings would help immensely in bringing down housing pressures and more than likely lower housing costs.

The City’s zoning map shows that far more area within city limits is reserved for low density residential and neighborhood housing then is for medium or high density residential areas. There aren’t that many places across town where apartments can even be built. 

These are the best ways to help lower renting housing costs since the U+2 law makes it so houses won’t become cheaper to rent. The newer Me+3 law that might replace U+2 would still just be a drop in the bucket.

 The average multi-story apartment building can fit from fifty to one hundred units per acre, with underground parking. One ranch style house on a couple acres could fit one large family or one hundred apartments with around three hundred people.

There has been some concern that this change will cover up some of the mountain skyline Fort Collins natives love. The towers at CSU, the First National Bank Building and the Hilton Fort Collins are all within the ten to fifteen story range and they have not blocked the mountain view from the city at all. 

Fort Collins’ housing prices are strong and people want to live here.They need places to live. 


According to the Census Bureau, the average household in the United States has about 2.58 people. The average multi-story apartment building can fit from 50-100 units per acre, with underground parking. So, one ranch style house on a couple acres could fit one large family or 100 apartments with around 300 people.

It’s all about efficient use of limited space and building more and more houses just doesn’t make sense. Yet, new housing communities are being built all the time in Fort Collins like Fox Grove, Mosaic and Timbervine

The city plan wants to improve the cost of housing and reduce the cities negative effects on the environment. Building energy-efficient apartment buildings with renewable energy in mind will do more to meet those goals then more single family houses ever could. 

It’s time for Fort Collins to start looking like a city.

Fynn Bailey can be reached at letters@collegian and online at @FynnBailey