Change around the corner

Old motel yields to dramatic plans for brick building

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A large, red brick building that would transform the 600 block of Lincoln Avenue is coming closer to reality.

Developer Jim Cook said this week that his company would like to tear down the old Nite's Rest Motel by late summer and pour a foundation for the new building before winter sets in next fall.

Cook and the other members of 601 LLC have submitted an application for a major development permit for the multiple-use building with three distinct features.

At street level, the building would offer two to six retail storefronts wrapping around the corner from Lincoln onto Sixth Street. The second and third levels of the building would offer eight residential units with floor plans resembling urban loft conversions. The third aspect of the project is a row of six live/work townhomes across the alley to the rear of the main building and overlooking Butcherknife Creek.

"The whole corner is so visible, the building needs to be good looking from front to back," Cook said.

The new building would be on the opposite side of Lincoln from the historic Western façade of the Old Town Pub and across the intersection diagonally from the Routt County Courthouse.

The visibility of the project is increased by the fact that Bank of the West, across Sixth Street to the east, is set back from the curb, Cook pointed out.

He said he is in talks with an established Steamboat retailer who is interested in occupying the corner entrance and taking 5,000 square feet. That tenant would be critical in anchoring the retail component of the project, he said.

"We have somebody in mind who is a local business who needs to expand," Cook said. "It's got to be an exciting retail business."

Members of the investment group developing the project include general contractor Terry Drahota of Drahota Construction and architectural firm Vaught Frye Architects of Fort Collins.

The other investors include Cook, Jeff and Kristin Brown, who own the Cantina and Mambo Italiano restaurants, and Steamboat Win Win Investments LLC. The registered agent for Steamboat Win Win is Tammy Salazar of Whitewood Drive. All five entities have a 20 percent share in the company and intend to develop the project themselves, Cook said.

Cook intends to use the Alpenglow Building to advance several of his philosophical approaches to the redevelopment of Steamboat's downtown commercial districts. He is a proponent of creating urban housing in the downtown core to create a customer base for new shops and restaurants.

Cook also thinks Steamboat's alleys have a future as commercial districts and will play a role in how Yampa Street continues to undergo redevelopment. Toward that end, he is asking the city to give his group responsibility for maintaining the alley between the main building at 601 Lincoln Ave. and the row of townhomes that are part of the project. Cook and the architects have designed the townhomes with garages that could be fronted with glass doors. The garage space in the 2,000-square-foot townhomes could be used for commercial purposes -- they could function as galleries, artists' studios or even offices.

"I'm really excited about the townhomes," Cook said. "I hope they will be an opportunity for some people in Steamboat who could afford to buy a house, or a business, but not both."

The project also proposes to create two rent-controlled employee housing units devoted to people employed in the downtown area.

City planner Tom Leeson said the Alpenglow Building will be required to go through the more demanding planned-unit development review because it will require some variances from the city code. However, he said the magnitude of the variances is relatively small. The Alpenglow Building, as proposed, exceeds the allowable floor area by a small amount, and the townhomes require front and rear set back variances.

Cook plans to bury utilities in the alley and pave it with stamped concrete and crick pavers instead of asphalt. The entrance to an underground parking garage for the buildings will also be off the alley.The 21-unit Nite's Rest was a Lincoln Avenue for decades until it was purchased by Cook's group in May. The previous owner, Cindy Stillwell, said her family was ready to get out of the motel business and needed a purchaser like Cook's group, that was more interested in the development opportunity than the business itself.

Cook said the residential units on the second floor of the Alpenglow Building will be designed as stacked flats -- all on one level. The largest will measure 1,700 square feet. The floor plans will emphasize open space evoking residential lofts created from old industrial buildings in other cities.

Construction values will dictate that sales prices on the flats will be no lower than $400 per square foot, Cook anticipated.

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