Steamboat Springs City planning officials strongly criticized plans for the new Steamboat Springs Community Center on Thursday night, calling the building's proposed architecture "blatantly institutional" and "extremely bland."
The Steamboat Springs Planning Commission voted against the development plan and final development plan for the 8,400-square-foot, $2.9 million center, saying the center's architecture and site layout are not appropriate for a potential landmark building that will serve as a gateway to the city along U.S. Highway 40.
The center is planned for a 2.3-acre site bordering the Yampa River and adjacent to the Stock Bridge Transit Center, west of downtown Steamboat Springs.
"The problem is not with the site, it's with the site design," said commission member Dick Curtis, critiquing the center's simplistic design and uniform, reddish-brown colors. "This is exceptionally bland architecture - a plain building that would be more suitable in an industrial park."
A project's development plan includes the building layout and overall site design.
The final development plan includes architectural details such as building materials, landscaping and floor plans.
The six commission members in attendance Thursday voted, 5-1, to deny recommending the community center's development plan to the Steamboat Springs City Council, and voted unanimously to deny recommending the final development plan.
Andrews and Anderson Architects of Golden designed the new community center and the firm has the option to appeal the commission's decisions by presenting plans to the City Council at its meeting Tuesday.
Deputy City Manager Wendy DuBord said that appeal will occur.
"We have to," she said.
The new community center must be built before the current Steamboat Springs Community Center, adjacent to Bud Werner Memorial Library, can be torn down to allow for the $11.4 million library expansion approved by voters in November 2005.
DuBord said according to the agreement city officials reached with library officials, the new community center must be completed by August 2007.
On Tuesday, the City Council will address a proposed community center that is on a tight timeline for construction but received strong criticism from the planning commission.
Commission members praised the architects' hard work on the center, which includes significant environmentally friendly building features and would be twice the size of the city's current, 4,200-square-foot community center.
But, with the exception of chairwoman Kathi Meyer, commission members did not support a variance requested by designers that would place the community center's parking close to U.S. 40.
Commission members also disapproved of the proposed use of exterior wood, which could deteriorate and require excessive future maintenance.
"This is not a gateway building," said commission member Nancy Engelken. She also expressed "grave concerns about the process" of city planning staff reviewing a city building, a point raised by the public.
"If this was anybody but the city, would you do this?" Steamboat resident Bill Jameson said of considering the variance.
Several commission members agreed with Jameson.
"This is not a building that any independent applicant could come forward with and expect to get passed," commission member Dana Stopher said. "It's just not. This plan does not cut it."