Steamboat Springs The proposed 8.5-acre commercial development along Mount Werner Road that provided some of the impetus for the community's recent debate on commercial growth has had a major overhaul.
The changes start with the name and continue on to parking lots, building size and sidewalks.
Last summer, in a preapplication hearing, developer Whitney Ward took his plans for the South Village at Steamboat commercial center before the City Council and Planning Commission. Both boards had concerns about the sea of parking in the middle of the center. They feared the development could look, as one commissioner said, like "Anywhere U.S.A." And they were wary of big-box retail stores.
Ward took notes.
Last week, Ward submitted his final development and preliminary plat plans for the 88,000-square-foot and eight-building commercial center. The site sits east of the Sinclair Gas Station and across the road from Central Park Plaza.
The name has changed to Wildhorse Marketplace and the biggest retail store was cut by almost 16,000 square feet. Taking the advice of one board member, Ward said, he has made the architecture "more ranchy, more porchy and more barny."
"It is not a changed plan, it is a completely new plan," Ward said. "We actually trashed $50,000 worth of architectural work and started all over again."
After the preapplication hearings, Ward traveled around the country to get ideas for a commercial design. He also hired new architects, Vail-based VAg Inc.
Ward said the intent was to bring a modern-day marketplace feel and keep the Steamboat character.
That meant eliminating a 240,000-square-foot parking area planned for the dead center of the site. Instead, the entrance off Mount Werner Road will now have a roundabout and, to give the commercial center an urban feel, diagonal parking spots will line the site's main roads. Wide sidewalks will line all the buildings. Pedestrian access and public transportation is heavily incorporated into the site plan.
"I think the goal here is to create a very strong pedestrian, streetscape environment. This is really unique to Steamboat," said planning consultant Peter Patten, who is overseeing the project plans.
A 10,000-square-foot office building and two 9,200-square-foot mixed retail and restaurant buildings along Mount Werner Road are planned. Ward said plans are also in the works for a plaza where city buses and private shuttles will drop off passengers.
The largest building sits at the back of the site and in direct view of the front-entrance roundabout. The two-story building will have 10,000 square feet of retail on its first floor and 10,000 square feet of office space above that.
The center strip of buildings will hold a 6,000-square-foot restaurant, a 10,000-square-foot retail building and two 12,000-square-foot mixed retail and restaurant buildings.
With the new emphasis on smaller retail buildings, Ward shied away from big-box stores. In the last plan, the anchor retail building was almost 27,000 square feet and was attached to two other retail spaces 13,500 square feet in size.
Ward also stepped up the architecture and proposes to use real stones, timber, tin and corrugated steel.
The South Village project was one of the developments that spurred City Council's recent discussion of "when is enough, enough" in terms of commercial growth. Commercial growth was also the focal point of the Economic Summit last week.
Ward said Wildhorse Marketplace would house a healthy mix of local and regional businesses. The center would not have big-box stores such as Wal-Mart, but Ward believes some national retail is necessary.
"Healthy retail needs to have a good balance of quality national retail and good, high quality local retail. We are at a poor disadvantage of not having national retail. The fact is, it will create a better community and a better environment and people like shopping there. And the traffic that comes in will help support the local tenants in there," Ward said.
"You also need the uniqueness and individuality of high-quality local tenants," he said.
The project is planned to take place in five stages. Ward said he hopes to break ground as early as next spring. He said three of the buildings could be delivered by Thanksgiving of 2004.
The Planning Commission and City Council should hear the plans by mid-summer.
-- To reach Christine Metz call 871-4229
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