Berrien Ranch is a 456± acre historic ranch enclave just south of Evergreen and an easy commute from Denver. It features lush meadows, healthy forests, prime elk habitat, and rocky outcrops with stunning views to Mount Evans. The property is fully entitled as a turnkey, masterfully planned 26-lot residential project under Jefferson County’s Rural Cluster land use process. Berrien Ranch is equally attractive as a primary Front Range residence, executive retreat, or close to town private recreational ranch. The property possesses inherent beauty, a foothills location, and extensive vested rights – allowing swift development of an exclusive community, with hundreds of acres of private park, either down the road or as an exit strategy. This property presents a unique opportunity for both the sophisticated investor and the discriminating end-user.
Just the Facts
- 456± acres
- 5 miles south of Evergreen
- 5 miles north of Conifer
- 25 miles from downtown
- 45 minutes from DIA
- Direct access to Highway 73
- Vested Rural Cluster Land Division
- Approved for 26 five-acre homesites
- Exceptional views of Mount Evans and Longs Peak
- Combination of heavy timber, meadow and rock outcroppings
- Diverse topography
- Large acreage holding for the area
- Multidimensional exit strategy
- In same ownership since the 1870s
The easterly boundary and lowest elevations of Berrien Ranch lie along County Highway 73. Broad and gentle terrain of open meadows and ponderosa pine forests extend westerly, where the land rises through rock outcroppings to high meadows, Douglas fir forests, stands of aspen and the top of Centaur Mountain, with its commanding views west to Mount Evans and surrounding peaks, and east across the rolling Front Range foothills. Most of the Berrien Ranch’s 456± acres is gentle, rolling land. There are few challenges to developing the property in accordance with its vested Rural Cluster entitlements; generous level building envelopes on all of the 26 approved residential lots provide great flexibility for planning, siting and designing the allowed improvements. If and when the new owner develops the property, the layout and spacing of the approved Rural Cluster lots and building envelopes will afford wonderful privacy and views across the shared, protected open area for each of the Berrien Ranch owners. Each of the three residential lot clusters on the property is buffered from residential areas bordering the Berrien Ranch by portions of the ranch’s private open area.
Vested Development Rights
Berrien Ranch, beautiful as is, is also a ready-to-build 26-unit residential subdivision. The project was approved in 2004 under Jefferson County’s Rural Cluster Process, which allows a doubling of residential density on a significant property (from one unit per 35 acres to two units per 35 acres) provided not less than two-thirds of the total acreage, including the land’s most outstanding natural features, is permanently protected as private open area. The current owners obtained these approvals to lock in the property’s long-term development value in anticipation of ongoing public efforts to reduce and restrict development in the Front Range’s more prosperous and growing counties.
Berrien Ranch contains 26 approved single-family residential lots, each larger than 5 acres, grouped into 3 separate clusters surrounded by more than 306 contiguous acres of conservation easement-protected private open space – a gorgeous landscape reserved exclusively for the use and enjoyment of the Berrien Ranch owners.
The Berrien Ranch Rural Cluster, masterfully laid out by the pre-eminent national planning and landscape architecture firm DHM Design, is thus an approved blueprint for the creation of an exclusive private enclave for horseback riders, hikers and nature enthusiasts. Because the rights to develop the land in accordance with the completed planning, platting and infrastructure engineering work are vested rights, Berrien Ranch represents an unusual opportunity to quickly realize a unique architectural and common interest community vision. The remaining required County approvals prior to issuance of permits to begin the work are minor, minimizing time and risk to begin building the project and marketing individual lots or homes, should a buyer choose to develop the property, either now or at some future time.
For many ranch buyers, the presence of a conservation easement raises questions and concerns. All other things being equal, the natural preference is to acquire land with the fewest potential restrictions on its future use and development.
It is therefore important to emphasize that, unlike many conservation easements, the easement affecting the Berrien Ranch was not granted by the current owners to constrain future owners to steward and preserve the property essentially as it is, or to extinguish opportunities. To the contrary, the Berrien Ranch conservation easement was negotiated and crafted as a necessary piece of a larger vision – to protect the owner’s ability to maximize, at the time of his or her choosing, the economic value of this oasis in the foothills just outside Denver, where both development and corresponding growth control pressures are intense.
Jefferson County’s Rural Cluster land division process is intended to create incentives and opportunities for landowners to optimize the development potential of significant properties while at the same time reducing the overall footprint of improvements and conserving the most significant features of the landscape. Again, by meeting the Rural Cluster requirements, a landowner can double the number of residential units otherwise allowed as a matter of right. There are great advantages to a Rural Cluster, as well as some tradeoffs.
Qualifying as a Rural Cluster requires permanently protecting not less than two-thirds of the larger property’s total acreage as open area, with limitations on certain uses. In general, the open area portion of any Rural Cluster project may be used for farming and ranching, as a natural area or wildlife sanctuary, or for non-commercial, low-impact “passive” recreational uses – such as hiking, birdwatching, nature study, and bicycling and horseback riding on roads and trails – that do not involve motorized equipment or guns. Commercial mining and timbering on, or other commercial uses or material alterations of, the open area portions of a Rural Cluster are prohibited.
If a key objective for a buyer is the ability to hunt on his or her own land, the Berrien Ranch may not be the ideal property. That said, vast expanses of national forest lands with outstanding hunting values are just a short drive from the ranch gates. Berrien Ranch itself, with its recognized elk calving area and exceptional and diverse wildlife habitat, is a sanctuary for both man and beast.
The required Berrien Ranch conservation easement interest granted to the local Mountain Area Land Trust (MALT) to meet Jefferson County Rural Cluster requirements reserves, however, great flexibility to construct the 26 allowed homes and related improvements within the generously sized and optimally spaced and sited building envelopes. The road system and other project infrastructure may be built as originally engineered and approved, notwithstanding possible later changes in general road standards or similar requirements, or efforts to further restrict development generally.
The owners’ significant investment in the Berrien Ranch Rural Cluster land division reflects their recognition – nearly two decades ago – that any limitations imposed by the required grant of a conservation easement were far outweighed by the vested development rights – in effect protecting the Berrien Ranch and its owners against inevitable future “downzoning” efforts – secured through that process.
In an area that has been highly developed, a property of this size and beauty, located just outside Evergreen and less than an hour from downtown Denver, is a rarity. Even rarer is the opportunity to enjoy for oneself this private ranch landscape that has been held by the same family for more than a century, while also having the immediate opportunity to pursue an approved first-class blueprint to create a unique private residential and equestrian community, with its own exclusive natural area park, to be shared by up to 26 privileged households. Minutes from Evergreen, the Berrien Ranch features lush open meadows and mostly gentle terrain punctuated by rocky outcrops, healthy ponderosa pine forests and aspen stands, abundant elk and other wildlife, beautiful and expansive views in all directions, and an idyllic Colorado mountain setting just a stone’s throw from all the culture and recreation that Denver and the Front Range have to offer.
Learn about the locale
Berrien Ranch is centrally located for both work and play. The property conveniently fronts on Jefferson County Highway 73; the northeast corner of the ranch is at the Highway 73 – North Turkey Creek Road intersection. The Village of Evergreen is just 10 minutes away, about 5 miles north on Highway 73; from there you can continue on County Highway 74/North Evergreen Parkway another 8 miles, about 15 minutes, to Interstate 70; from there it’s a straight shot into Denver or up to the mountains. Or take North Turkey Creek Road from Berrien Ranch about 6 miles east, less than 15 minutes, and you’re on U.S. Highway 285, providing another option to commute to the city or head to the high country. Downtown Denver is about 45 minutes away, and Denver International Airport just over an hour, via either I-70 or US 285 from the ranch; having the choice of two principal routes straight out of the gate is an added convenience.
The Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, stretching from Boulder to Pueblo, offers endless opportunities for outdoor recreation and sophisticated entertainment, amid some of the most beautiful scenery in the western United States. The vast expanses of the Pike National Forest and Arapaho National Forest, as well as Staunton State Park and other Colorado State Parks and Wildlife Areas, are short drives away. In addition, nearby units of the Denver Mountain Parks and Jefferson County Open Space systems provide thousands of acres of hiking, biking, horseback riding and cross-country skiing trails, and lakes, rivers and fishing streams, all within minutes of the Berrien Ranch. Hiwan Golf Club, a private country club east of Bergen Park, features an 18-hole golf course with challenging greens and fairways lined with ponderosa pines.
Nearby Evergreen, with its mix of boutiques, shops, restaurants, pubs and local businesses, is a center of year-round activity. Evergreen Lake, created in 1927 with the damming of Bear Creek just above the town, is a popular fishing and picnicking spot in summer, and a destination for ice-skaters in winter. Named for Colorado Governor John Evans, Mount Evans is the second tallest of Colorado’s 54 “Fourteeners”; visible from more than 100 miles away, Mount Evans rises 14,265 feet above sea level and dominates the westerly views from the high ground of Berrien Ranch.
Berrien Ranch rises from about 7,800 feet above sea level on the east to about 8,300 feet in elevation at the property’s westerly high point atop Centaur Mountain. The property enjoys a mild mountain climate, typical of the eastern slope of the Front Range. Jefferson County experiences about 245 sunny days a year with July high temperatures reaching into the low 80s. Winter high temperatures average about 34 degrees. The county receives an average of 77 inches of snow and 15 inches of rainfall per year. Evergreen is slightly warmer with July highs reaching into the mid 80s and average January high temperatures in the low 40s. With low humidity and sunny days to moderate temperatures, it’s common to see locals walking through Evergreen in wintertime in shirtsleeves.
Learn more about the property
Acreage (Deeded & Leased)
Deeded Acres: 456±
Total Acres: 456±
Facts at a Glance
Address: 7531 County Highway 73, Evergreen, Colorado
Nearest town: Evergreen, CO, 5 miles
Nearest city: Denver, CO, 30 miles to downtown
Property Taxes: Estimated at approximately $731.00 annually
Acreage: 456 ± Deeded Acres
Terrain: Mix of open meadows, ponderosa pine, mountain forests
Elevation: 7,800± to 8,300± feet above sea level
Conservation Easement: Yes, as required for Rural Cluster entitlements
• Denver International Airport, Denver County, 55 miles with a drive time of just over an hour via Interstate 70. Commercial aviation with domestic and international flights on major carriers.
• Centennial Airport, Englewood, CO, 35 miles, with a drive time of about 50 minutes via U.S. Highway 285. General aviation, open to the public, control tower.
Existing historic improvements located on the Berrien Ranch headquarters, on the largest individual approved lot at the property’s County Highway 73 entrance, include older residential, ranch maintenance, and equestrian facilities. All of these structures are in relatively poor repair and do not currently contribute significant value to the property. However, under the vested development rights associated with this headquarters parcel, on which both residential and agricultural and related new improvements are permitted, these structures could be upgraded or replaced to support a new owner’s agricultural or recreational ranch management, or to provide shared equestrian or other amenities to a Berrien Ranch community in the future. The opportunity to utilize the headquarters to support a private equestrian community of homeowners, in conjunction with shared private trail and other recreational uses of the Berrien Ranch’s extensive open area, presents a broad canvas on which the new Berrien Ranch owner can paint his or her own long-term investment vision for the property.
Two existing permitted wells service the historic headquarters improvements. Under the County’s Rural Cluster entitlements, the property qualifies for 26 Rural Cluster wells – one for each of the allowed residences. Although there are no irrigation water rights associated with the property, springs and seeps on the property maintain lush meadow areas and aspen groves throughout the summer season.
Any and all mineral rights owned by the Seller will be transferred to Buyer at closing; note that, under the requirements of the Jefferson County Rural Cluster process and its required conservation easement over the property, commercial development of any minerals on the property is not permitted.
The Berrien Ranch has been briefly grazed each summer by a small number of livestock, managed by a long-term seasonal lessee, to preserve both the health of its grasses and the property’s agricultural tax classification. Annual real property taxes for 2018 are approximately $731.00.
Learn about the recreational amenities
The Jefferson County Rural Cluster rules under which the property’s vested development entitlements were obtained prohibit hunting and firearms use on the Berrien Ranch. The property contains significant elk winter range and an elk calving area recognized by the Colorado Parks and Wildlife Department, and is rich with birds and other wildlife.
Berrien Ranch is located in Game Management Unit 39 of the Central Front Range district. Like much of the central Front Range, GMU 39 includes major highways, residential areas, public parks and open space where hunting is prohibited. Most of the hunting in GMU 39 is on other private land or public land at higher elevations. Resident and migratory deer and elk herds occupy the area. Most of the migratory elk that winter at the lower and middle elevations are found on private land (including the Berrien Ranch) or in public open spaces where hunting is prohibited. In 2012, hunters harvested 187 deer and 161 elk from GMU 39.