Harbor Hotel plan gets nod

Council to review Howelsen Place proposal next


— A project that would include the demolition of the Harbor Hotel was approved by a majority of Steamboat Springs Planning Commission members on Thursday.

The commissioners reviewed Howelsen Place, a commercial and residential project that would be constructed at Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue.

The commissioners voted on two aspects of the application: the development plan and the final development plan. The development plan deals with issues such as mass and scale; the final development plan focuses on architecture.

The project includes two mixed-use buildings, which would each be about 42,000 square feet. There would be 11 commercial units, 35 market-rate residential units and seven affordable residential units.

The developer included affordable housing as a public benefit. The project is required to include public benefit because the developer is asking for several variances from the code.

The project has met some resistance from those who say that the hotel has historic value. But during public comment, which comes before commissioners' discussion and vote, no one spoke.

Commissioner Dick Curtis opened discussion when he said, "I think this is a very commendable project." He said the Harbor Hotel is "pretty much a mess."

"We've had an eyesore down there for a while," he said.

Curtis said that the City Council should look at a payment for the project's parking deficiency. The proposal lacks parking spaces that are required based on the city's code. Jim Cook, a principal in the project, defended the amount of parking provided. He said people living in the project's residential units shouldn't need more than one parking space per unit.

Commissioner Cari Hermacinski said she didn't agree with the city's code and that she thought it required too much parking. She didn't think the commission should recommend that the council institute a fee in lieu.

Commissioner Nancy Engelken was concerned about the lack of parking.

"The fact is they're going to have two cars," she said, adding that the residents will only increase the parking problem downtown.

Commissioner Dana Stopher had a different concern: the size of the building on the southwest side.

"I don't think it's appropriate; I think it needs to be a smaller building," she said. She said she was afraid approval would set a precedent.

"I have really big concerns that we're going to have along Yampa ... one large building after another," she said.

Curtis agreed.

"That's going to ultimately change the character of that side of Yampa," he said. However, he said, he was in overall support of the project.

Stopher said she would deny the motion to approve the project's development plan because of its size.

"This is a place where I'm drawing a line in the sand," she said.

The development plan was approved, 5-3; Stopher, Engelken and D.J. Chotvacs voted against it. Chotvacs is a member of the Historical Preservation Advisory Com-

mission, which sent a voting representative for review of this project because of the hotel. Commissioner Tracy Barnett, who is with the Main Street Steamboat Springs organization, sat out of the discussion because of potential conflict of interest.

There was little discussion on the final development plan, which passed unanimously.

The commission is a recommending body to the Steamboat Springs City Council, which has the final say in whether the two plans are approved. The council is set to review the project June 27.

-- To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229

or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com.


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