Hotel to be demolished

Council vote means Howelsen Place has cleared planning process

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The Harbor Hotel will be torn down and replaced with a commercial and residential project, the Steamboat Springs City Council has ruled.

On Tuesday, the council approved the development plan and final development plan for Howelsen Place, which will take the place of the hotel at Seventh Street and Lincoln Avenue.

The development plan deals with issues such as mass and scale; the final development plan focuses on architecture. Approval of the two plans by the council means the project has completed the planning process.

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

During public comment, which came before the council's vote, Tracy Barnett of Main Street Steamboat Springs read a letter stating the organization's support for the project.

"Although the loss of the historic Harbor Hotel is an unfortunate event for the preservation of our unique assets, the resulting project, in turn, directly addresses the goals and principles of the mission of Main Street Steamboat Springs," Barnett read.

Steamboat Springs resident Bobbi Hodge disagreed.

"This project disturbs me," Hodge said. "I'm a member of the public, but I don't see any public benefit in it."

The project must provide public benefit because it includes variances from city code. She said that a true public benefit is saving the hotel.

D.J. Chotvacs, a represent----ative of the Historical Preser--vation Advisory Commission, said that the group did not approve of the project. "Our biggest concern is mass and scale, and this is huge," Chotvacs said.

Council members expressed overall support of the project, but some said they were concerned about its size and the lack of parking. Howelsen Place will have one parking space per residential unit; the city code requires two for that type of project.

Council member Steve Ivancie was concerned about setting a bad precedent.

"When it comes to parking, we're going to have to decide where we draw the line," Ivancie said. He said he would consider a fee in lieu for the missing parking spots. The council can request that developers pay $10,000 per missing spot when five or more required spots are not provided.

Ivancie said the project is one of the best he has seen lately. "I think this is an attractive building, and I think it's a step forward," Ivancie said.

Council member Susan Dell--inger was pleased with the project's progress.

"I thought you did a great job," Dellinger told the project's developers. She said she favored a fee in lieu of the parking.

Council President Ken Bren--ner said he was disappointed about the scale of the project and its effect on the view corridor. However, he said, the development team did a great job taking direction given by officials.

Council member Paul Strong said the architecture was great, but that he was concerned about the mass and scale. However, he said, it was too late to re-engineer the project.

Strong also said he was concerned about the lack of parking. He proposed that the council assume that the project needs 1.5 parking spaces per residential unit; the affordable housing units would be exempt. That means the developer would pay for the lack of six units at the price of $10,000 each. Cook said that the proposal was acceptable.

The council approved the development plan in a 5-1 vote. Ivancie was the opposing vote; he said he was concerned about the lack of parking. Kevin Kaminski was not present for the vote. The council voted 6-0 to approve the final development plan.

-- To reach Dana Strongin, call 871-4229

or e-mail dstrongin@steamboatpilot.com

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