Trailhead Lodge architecture criticized

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Illustration Courtesy of Oz Architecture

City planning commissioners praised the entry design for the proposed Trailhead Lodge this week. However, they were less pleased with the north elevation (not shown) of the 176,000-square-foot building, and they tabled further consideration of the project until Feb. 22.

The developers of Trailhead Lodge heard plenty of praise from the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission on Thursday night, but they didn't get a vote of approval.

Their proposal for an 86-unit condo hotel at Wildhorse Meadows was tabled until Feb. 22. In the meantime, three of the five commissioners present at the hearing asked architects for Resort Ventures West to add more variety to the north side of the building.

"You've done an excellent job with the site plan and landscaping," Commissioner Dick Curtis said. "What we're not seeing is a lower pedestrian feel to this thing. I'm sorry to say we're not quite there yet with the architecture."

The developers seemed undeterred and willing to redesign the north façade of the building after failing to win the final development permit they sought.

"It presents some engineering challenges," David Hill said. "I hope we can do it. We can do it."

Hill is president of Resort Ventures West, which plans to develop Trailhead as part of the overall Wildhorse Meadows project, adjacent to the city's tennis pavilion off Pine Grove Road. His company won city approval in July 2006 for a master plan that anticipates 567 residential units in a mix of condos, townhomes and single-family homes. The plan includes a commercial center, water features, trails, a public cultural building and a "low capacity" public gondola that would ferry pedestrians to the base of the ski area.

Trailhead Lodge, slated to begin construction this summer, would be the first building to go up on the 47.25-acre site.

"This is an important part of Wildhorse Meadows," Resort Ventures West Vice President Brent Pearson told the commissioners. "It's the social epicenter for our project and will house some important amenities."

Assistant Planning Director Brian Berndt recommended approval of the project and said it meets the design guidelines set forth in the city's Base Area Plan.

However, Commissioner Steve Lewis said he was worried that the north elevation of the C-shaped building did not meet the letter of the city code.

Specifically, Lew-

is said he believes the code calls for upper floors of the building to be stepped back.

Although the developers and architect Rebecca Stone of Oz Arch-

itecture in Denver had designed indentations and setbacks in the façade, Lewis said they hadn't gone far enough.

"The architecture in this project is excellent," Lewis said. "But I have one side of the building that does not live up to our code."

Commissioner Tracy Barnett said she was less concerned with the architectural details on the north elevation and made a motion to recommend approval of the project to City Council. Commissioner Nancy Engelken seconded the motion but later said that her second was made in order to move on to discussion of the architecture. She agreed with Lewis and Curtis.

"You don't go far enough," she told the developers. "There's an opportunity to do more."

Barnett's mo-

tion failed, 3-2, with Commission Chairwoman Kathi Meyer joining Barnett in favor of the project.

Following the initial vote, there was a unanimous vote to table the project.

Lewis left the developers with a note of encouragement.

"I'm not enjoying not supporting the motion," he said. "I like it, I just have a catch."

"You guys are the best developers we have. You've presented the best team - the best product."

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