Base area design in review

City Council considers draft of proposed changes

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If the mountain town area's design changed, what would it look like?

City Council members took another step in determining that during their meeting this week, when they reviewed a draft report summarizing key issues in the area.

The report, drafted by Colorado consultants Clarion Associates, is an early step in the Mountain Town Sub Area Plan.

The plan, which is part of the implementation of the Base Area Plan Update, is meant to help the city craft a vision for the appearance and some of the infrastructure at the base of the ski area.

City Council members previously placed a moratorium on development and final development plans at the base. The moratorium is set to end Nov. 1. Council members are likely to review the possibility of extending it before it ends, council President Paul Strong said Thursday.

To create its report, Clarion Associates interviewed city officials, owners, developers, citizens and other stakeholders about opinions on the base area's look and what changes would improve it.

Issues the consultant addressed and suggestions to improve them include:

A unifying theme: Vail looks like a European ski village, and Aspen looks like a late 1800s Victorian town. Steamboat, sta--keholders told the consultant, should look Western, Alpine or rural. This would include stone, timber and peaked roofs.

Building design: There should be more small buildings. Big walls on larger structures should be broken with windows, changes in color and other devices.

Building materials and colors: Stone and wood were listed as acceptable materials, and stucco and vertical metal panels were unacceptable. White and pastel colors should not be allowed, with colors such as dark reds, greens and grays taking their place.

Pedestrian circulation: The base area needs to be less confusing and more appealing. Well-marked main entries to buildings that include ski racks and landscaping along the walkways should be required.

Public spaces and community amenities: Plazas, outdoor art work, sculptures and water elements should be considered. Amenities should be made of quality materials.

Other topics included building orientation, roof design, parking, lighting and renovation of existing buildings.

City Council member Kathy Connell said Thursday that she thought the draft was excellent and that she was excited for the next step.

Clarion Associates is expected to recommend revisions to the development code to the city planning commission next month. Council members must review and vote on the revisions before they become part of the city code.

Connell said she wants to make sure the code is specific. She wants to avoid an overly eclectic or mixed look.

"What we have here is a mish mash. We've thrown condo seeds out there and they've all grown," she said.

Connell said the plan's success also depends on the recognition that owners of existing buildings on site need financial incentives to upgrade.

"We can't make undue hardships by our review system," she said.

Council member Steve Ivancie said he wants to develop a theme that will last.

"One of (my comments) was that there be more of a timelessness look rather than trendy materials," he said. "I'm a big proponent of the village look."

That look, he said, would include street lamps that shed light downward instead of out. Strong said Thursday he also prefers downcast lighting because it doesn't break up the night sky.

Strong said he would like to see more signs directing people around the ski mountain.

"Making it easier to find your way around the base area is one of the most important things you can do," he said.

Although stucco was noted in the consultant's report as a possible building material to ban, Ivancie said he doesn't think it should be eliminated.

"It has been overused in the past, but it's a very good material if done right and applied properly," he said.

Ivancie said people need public or private lockers to store their equipment.

"Have you ever shopped with your boots on, carrying your skis around? People need a place where they can have a locker to put ... their stuff," he said.

It's all part of creating a quality, functional ski area, he said.

"In the past, it was kind of a free for all," Ivancie said. "There were not standards. If we want a world-class resort, we need world-class standards."

Connell said she wants to review the design regulations carefully before approving them. "This is our last chance to do it right."

-- To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229

or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com

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