Planning OKs Wildhorse

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Developer Whitney Ward listened when the city Planning Commission asked him to make changes to his plans for an 88,600-square-foot commercial center in May.

Ward gave the plan a major overhaul and submitted the revised version Thursday night. The Planning Commission liked what it saw.

In a 7-0 vote, the commission recommended approval of the preliminary plat and development plan. The plans are scheduled to go before the City Council on Sept. 9.

"This is what we have been waiting for, thank you," Planning Commissioner Dana Stopher told the applicants Thursday night.

In the past year, Ward changed everything from the development's name to its parking layout to architecture for the proposed 8.5-acre parcel along Mount Werner Road, now known as Wildhorse Marketplace.

In the original plan, commissioners expressed concerns about the sea of parking in the middle of the commercial center, the architectural plans for the buildings that faced Mount Werner Road and the effects the center could have on downtown businesses.

After the city's comments last summer, Ward told the Planning Commission he traveled across the country looking at commercial centers and then hired an architectural firm that had more experience in mountain communities than Front Range strip malls.

Some of the biggest differences in the new plan are the increase in space between buildings and the reduction of the largest building by about 16,000 square feet.

The changes also gave the center an urban feel by having a roundabout at the entrance off of Mount Werner Road. The site's main road will have diagonal parking and the larger buildings have parking behind the storefronts.

The buildings also have 360-degree architecture, meaning that each side of the buildings will have architectural accents. Ward also said his team went beyond the plain, flat-roofed, concrete, box shape of many commercial centers. Wildhorse will incorporate metal, wood and stone into the buildings.

The Planning Commission had little trouble going along with a variance request for snow storage. In the winter, snow will be stored on part of the parking lot, even though it is three parking spaces short of the required snow-storage area.

The commissioners also had no problems extending the preliminary plat approval for 10 years. Planning Commissioner Tracey Barnett said she would rather the developers take their time building the project than building it all at once and having empty storefronts.

In other business, the Planning Commission approved a request for a conditional use permit that will allow a bed and breakfast in a residential neighborhood. The bed and breakfast is planned for a Victorian house that sits under the ski area's gondola. Two neighbors expressed concerns about the plan. The house is in an area where many residences are on the nightly rental market.

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