Walgreens build considered

Public benefits must outweigh environmental concerns

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— Steamboat Springs planning commissioners will look tonight at a project that would bring a Walgreens drug store to Steamboat.

The project is a revised version of a plan commissioners saw several months ago. The store would be located near U.S. Highway 40 and the Steamboat Crossings commercial center.

Tonight, commissioners will conduct a pre-application hearing, during which they will not make any decisions but will discuss the proposed project.

The project includes two linked proposals, one commercial and one residential. The commercial element includes three single-story retail buildings, a single-story office building and a 14,820-square-foot, single-story Walgreens.

The city's "big box" ordinance applies to the drug store because it would be a single-tenant commercial use of more than 12,000 square feet. The project will have to go through the Planned Unit Development process, which requires that the public benefits outweigh the environmental effects.

To meet that requirement, the developers, Pedersen Development Co. of Denver, are offering to provide affordable housing within the residential part of the development. There would be a 12-building housing complex containing 108 residential units, 17 of which would be deed restricted so they are affordable. The number of units is about equal to the amount required if the city passes an inclusionary zoning ordinance. The city has been examining the ordinance, which, if approved, would require developers to include 15 percent affordable units within a residential project.

City staff members are asking planning commissioners to focus on two aspects of the project. The first would be to determine whether the public benefit of the project outweighs a requested variance from the code. Also, staff members want commissioners' reactions to changes in the project's proposed architecture.

In other business, the commission will review the city's draft Sidewalk Master Plan. The document proposes $10.8 million in new sidewalk links and pedestrian bridges. An estimated $3 million would be covered by development, but city officials would have to find a way to fund the other projects.

The City Council reviewed the plan in January and decided that the Planning Commission should review it. Council members expressed desire for officials and the public to see the plan.

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