Riverwalk's first phase approaching final OK

Four Old Town buildings scheduled for 2007 construction

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— Developers of the Riverwalk project in downtown Steamboat Springs are preparing to tackle the final hurdle before they can begin construction of the project's first four buildings.

The new buildings, at Yampa and Fourth streets, would transform a portion of the Yampa River frontage previously occupied by the Westland Mobile Home Park.

Jim Cook and his development group have spent many months in the planning process, but City Planner Jonathan Spence said the application for a final development plan submitted this month represents the final city approval the developers need before commencing construction on the project's first phase.

The technical aspects of the project - building height, density, parking and traffic flow, for example - have all been approved, Spence said. All that remains is final approval of the architecture and design. Members of the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission and City Council will seek to confirm that the project meets the criteria for high-quality material, variation in the appearance of the buildings and placement of windows.

"It looks great," Spence said. "City staff is appreciative of the level of refinement that has resulted from multiple (architectural) iterations" of the buildings.

Riverwalk is a mixed residential/commercial project that also would include a new section of public trail along the Yampa River. Although the first phase includes just four of the 10 buildings that ultimately will make up the project, Cook said the first phase would entail installing utilities for the entire project.

"It will be expensive because we'll probably build the trail for the entire project," Cook said. "We are exploring the possibility of utilizing geothermal energy for the trail's snowmelt system."

Cook said his intent was to undertake construction of the four buildings in phase one in 2007. The buildings will offer 35 residential units averaging 1,100 square feet and totaling about 40,000 square feet. Phase one also will create 11 retail units totaling about 20,000 square feet. The initial construction phase also will include 14,000 square feet of covered parking.

The developers say each building will be different from its neighbor while incorporating similar design elements. Architect Brandt Vanderbosch of Vertical Arts designed the buildings around the public spaces incorporated in the project. Plans for the first phase include a small stone amphitheater that abutts the water.

Spence said he was pleased to see that the architecture of Riverwalk acknowledges some of the historical elements in 19th-century buildings along the nearby Lincoln Avenue commercial district, but still looks contemporary.

"It's clearly a product of its time," Spence said. "People looking at it 50 or 75 years from now will be able to say, 'Oh, that was built in 2006.'"

- To reach Tom Ross, call 871-4205

or e-mail tross@steamboatpilot.com

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