Steamboat Springs Planning Commission tables Walgreens proposal

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Look for more in-depth coverage, including new images of the planned Walgreens, in the Real Estate section of Sunday’s Steamboat Pilot & Today and at www.steamboathomefinder.com on Sunday.

— The Steamboat Springs Plan­­ning Commission voted unanimously Thursday night to table plans for a new 16,450-square-foot Walgreens store until Jan. 27 so the applicants can have more time to address questions about the project.

That would leave just three working days for members of the Steamboat Springs City Council to digest the changes before their Feb. 1 date with applicant Brian Olson for a meeting that could determine the fate of the project.

Olson came close to telling the Planning Commission he would regretfully prefer a vote to deny his project Thursday night over a tabling motion so he could go straight to the City Council for an override.

“I have a contract with Wal­­greens that requires me to deliver a building by Halloween,” Ol­­son said. “We need to keep that date with City Council.”

The Planning Commission agreed with senior City Planner Bob Keenan that the applicants need to do more to justify their request for 11 variances from the Com­­munity Development Code and Urban Design guidelines before city officials have sufficient information to make a decision. Olson agreed to try to meet their wishes.

When Olson and architect Eric Smith come back to the commission in two weeks, they’ll be expected to give more details about how they can meet landscaping standards in the U.S. Highway 40 right-of-way.

The developers also will be asked to quantify the public benefit their project would provide in economic terms to justify their requested variances from the code. The commissioners want Ol­­son to put dollar figures on the economic impact a Walgreens store could provide in terms of employment and sales-tax revenues. They also want to know the dollar value of public street and transit improvements of a proposed transit stop and traffic roundabout the developers plan to build on Pine Grove Road west of U.S. 40.

However, the strongest comments from the commissioners related to their disappointment that the least attractive side of the new building, where the loading dock and trash facility would be located, is planned to face U.S. 40.

“Ninety percent of the public’s reaction to this building is going to be how it looks from High­­way 40,” Commissioner Troy Brook­­shire said. “I want to see something besides blank walls and sterile brick from the highway.”

The commissioners heard almost an hour of public comments, most of them in favor of approving the Walgreens store. Retired banker Paul Berge told the commission the drive-through pharmacy window of a Walgreens store would benefit many, including mothers with sick children in car seats.

“I really endorse the concept of the drive-through,” Berge said. “It provides a significant convenience for people who may be able to drive but have a disability. Parking and walking into the store in this climate is a real inconvenience and, in some respects, somewhat of a danger for many.”

Comments

Gaylan Hellyer 3 years, 8 months ago

I am on the fence about this but, as a parent and for the visitors this will be a 24hr store. Right now if you need anything after 10pm you are out of luck or you would have to go to the Emergency Room for anything medical. This would offer a pharmacy and other goods for any reason late at night. You never know when a child is going to come down with a fever or a sore skier might decide they need some Ibuprofen and a heating pad. In addition it would be nice to clean up that intersection and make it more pedestrian friendly with sidewalks and a new bus stop on that side of the road, which they are willing to develop at their cost not the city's.

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mark bond 3 years, 8 months ago

Lets see, the people want it and it will generate much needed revenue for the city! I am confident it will be shot down in order to preserve the "natural" and beautiful (not) look of the current intersection. Does the council member think he is more capable than Walgreens of determining the best presentation of its own building to the general public? Is it not one of our nations most successful businesses? How many more city and county employees will have to be laid off before this city wakes up to the 21st century? Unbelievable!

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runnerbikerdriver44 3 years, 8 months ago

Why not give us something we can use in this town, such as a Target? We don't need another pharmacey filled with items we don't need everyday. Bring in a store that is a slight step up from Wal-Mart in the houseware department, and I will be happy with a new store. And a side note-most vacationers can go to the front desk of where they are staying to get Advil, Tylenol. etc.

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Leslie Faulkner 3 years, 8 months ago

From Mark MWB007: 'How many more city and county employees will have to be laid off before this city wakes up to the 21st century? Unbelievable!'

Props Mark. I couldn't have said it better.

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Gaylan Hellyer 3 years, 8 months ago

I agree, I would rather have a Target but since Steamboat 700 was turned down I doubt we will see a store that big for some time. It would be nice to have something of that caliber open 24 hours. Most doctors offices in town have someone on call 24 hours but that does not do many people any good if they can't get medicine when they need it. I will stay faithful to my current pharmacy, but it is a good option. And the arguments made last night were all valid. The building is aesthetic and will have the loading dock and trash concealed from veiw for the most part. It will look much better than the empty unmaintained lot that is there now. The project it self will produce many needed jobs in the short term with enough in the long term to make a difference in a town this size. The one in Craig looks nice but the one here would be built to our ski-town standards. With more character and landscaping. I don't like the idea of a chain store in Steamboat, but it will be a much needed boost.

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1999 3 years, 8 months ago

how is buliding a walgreens going to keep city employees from being laid off?

the spending of dollars will not increase...it will just be dispersed.

i suspect the building company, excavators and such will be hired from out of town.

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Gaylan Hellyer 3 years, 8 months ago

Whether they use local labor or not it will still bring in income to the valley. Out of town labor will still need places to eat and sleep. But if the city would work with Walgreens, the local developer and fully competent local labor I bet they could come to an agreement to use local resources.

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 8 months ago

This is capitalism, not a planned economy. We shouldn't approve or not approve a store based upon opinions of whether that store is needed or not needed. We should let the business owner decide whether or not the store is should be here.

If being open 24 hours is an amenity then is the business permit going to require that they are open 24 hours a day? Should a list of required items also be specified to prevent Walgreens from selling the store to another retailer that isn't open 24 hours a day selling meds? If a 24 hours pharmancy is a needed amenity then government might as well run it and, as with the Iron Horse, demonstrate government's skill at running a business.

Since we have zoning and planning then there is only on proper topic of discussion for government which is does the building meet the rules? If the rules are so impossible that a perfectly reasonable building needs 11 variances then it is time to change the rules. Or if 11 variances are to be allowed so that we can have some construction jobs this summer then we should suspend the rules for all as long as they build this summer. No, it is time for one set of zoning rules that apply to all and not a set of rules that only apply to some when the economy is good.

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Gaylan Hellyer 3 years, 8 months ago

The variances may or may not be approved. Each one needs to be considered and evaluated the same as it would for any other project. Not all parcels and project can fit into the same mold. The variances were discussed last night at the meeting. And for the most part they were justified. It it up to the planning commission to make the final call.

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greenwash 3 years, 8 months ago

What it will bring is more congestion to an already congested intersection.

24 hours sounds great until 6 months into it they realize its not worth being open 24 hours so they re-adjust the hours .

Walgreens should re evaluate site ....Move to westside and better serve our community .

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chickadee 3 years, 8 months ago

Newsflash! If you want to buy something from Target, just do it online at target.com. It is so amazing. They can deliver whatever you need right to your front door via UPS. Shopping brick and mortar is so last century.

See also: Walgreens.com

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greenwash 3 years, 8 months ago

Good Point Chickadee....I think you can get meds online too .

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Ken Reed 3 years, 8 months ago

The Pilot did an online poll before Christmas and asked, "Where will you spend your holiday shopping dollars?" 49% of the folks that responded said "online."

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chickadee 3 years, 8 months ago

ah, yes GW. lots of on-line merchants will deliver meds right to one's door step. not that I would know, but that is what I have heard.

one can order something as small as one pair of socks from target.com and get free home delivery using a promotional code. Likewise, drugstore.com will deliver a bottle of ibuprofin to one's doorstep.

shopping on line as such might not be very "green" but really, who wants to go outside and shop in a real store when you have a headache and no clean socks? So much easier to just sit on the couch in my snuggie and have those items delivered and I am not kidding.

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housepoor 3 years, 8 months ago

It's Walgreen's who taking the risk here. I’m sure their site selection process is pretty comprehensive and I’d be surprised if visiting tourists were not part of that equation.

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mark bond 3 years, 8 months ago

Since a primary source of city revenue is sales tax, it should be relatively easy to figure out how this would impact layoffs and other government expenses! Economic development equals economic growth. Economic stagnation will result from too much governmental interference with a free market. Super Walmart goes to Craig and Steamboat sends tax revenue over there! In response to online comments, yes your can go that route and eventually you will have no revenue to support any governmental services including fire and police!

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Steve Lewis 3 years, 8 months ago

Thank you planning commissioners for sticking to your rules.

I doubt this Walgreen's has changed much from its effort here 4 years ago. They insisted then that every Walgreen's look the same. And it still seems the biggest problem is the ugly appearance from Hwy 40. In the earlier version, that was a BIG wall.

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Steve Lewis 3 years, 8 months ago

Mark, We are probably talking about trading locally owned stores (Lyons drug) for chain retailers (Walgreens). And its a bit more complicated. You may be right about the sales tax revenues from the drugstore itself (excepting online options), but you ignore the local economy. Locally owned stores keep more $$ in the local economy. And those end up in sales tax revenues too.

And just how bad do we need a new pharmacy right across the street from Safeway's pharmacy?

Fortunately, these debatables are not the basis of the approval or denial of this store.

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pitpoodle 3 years, 8 months ago

Lewi, you are quite correct. The local economy is much better served by a local Lyons Drug than a nation-wide chain. We should not be put in the position of saving Mr. Olsen from his own bad land purchase and development speculation. I am sure he knew the city's rules on big box size. He made the "deal" with Walgreens and now wants us to bail him out. Just say no.

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Scott Wedel 3 years, 8 months ago

I was not at the meeting so I cannot comment on why there is a need for 11 variances or whether they are justified. But I suggest the fact that a relatively typical site submitting a proposal that is basically the expected use (retail) then the fact that there are 11 requested variances means that either the project is wrong for the site or that there are too many wrongheaded rules.

In a city with reasonable zoning regulations then a reasonably designed project of a retail store at a typical intersection on a primary road will not need 11 variances. If we have 11 rules that are so overbearing that the developer should be exempted then those 11 rules need to be changed. If all of the rules are appropriate then the project should conform to the rules and not want 11 exemptions.

So how much does conforming to the rules add to the cost of a project? And how much of an advantage does that give major corporations able to absorb those costs over locally owned businesses that cannot afford to spend that kind of money to get a project through the approval process?

I also notice that apparently the rules are so complicated that the City Council meeting included a discussion on whether there should be some organized help for people dealing with the rules. It seems to that the correct answer is not that city staff is helpful enough, but that there are too many complicated rules.

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kyle pietras 3 years, 8 months ago

I don't think we NEED a Walgreens. It will stress the smaller business and most likely put them out of business. A hot dog and a shake at Lyons drug, my kids love it and so do I.

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boater1 3 years, 8 months ago

drug dealers always make alot of $ legal or not. wallgreens has persisted with this because they know our health continues to head into the crapper and americans will keep buying more and more drugs. you might not need that new towel set from target but you sure need your drugs.

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boater1 3 years, 8 months ago

so does steamboat need another pharmacy & drug store realted things? no different than another mexcian restaraunt, no, all these items are available at several locations around town. if built will wallgreens be sucessfull, yes.

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boater1 3 years, 8 months ago

what steamboat does need is quickie and cheap walk up and visit nurse/etc. and pay on the spot medical kiosk.

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exduffer 3 years, 8 months ago

So nice to see that the former CEO of First Wisconsin bank (Firstar) cares about sick children.

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ybul 3 years, 8 months ago

--I doubt this Walgreen's has changed much from its effort here 4 years ago. They insisted then that every Walgreen's look the same. And it still seems the biggest problem is the ugly appearance from Hwy 40. In the earlier version, that was a BIG wall.--

Just as Walgreens wants to brand their store. The city should also be slightly concerned about the branding of the community also. Having the front of their building facing 40 does not seem like a big imposition. While Walgreens may feel that their brand is more important than the image of the town. The image of the town will bring visitors here.

The best example I can think of is Santa Fe and their requirement to build with an adobe appearance. This lends to the towns brand and draw to the community. Helping to build on the success of the town, even though Steamboat Springs does not have a required building style, the feel, flow and function of the community effect the desirability of tourism, LNB and more. So a big blank wall facing hwy 40, probably would not lend to the desirability of the town.

Given that one can go to City market or safeway currently for a prescription, I doubt if has a great effect on Lyons drug. Most of the people who shop there want the small town atmosphere and Walgreens will not deliver that.

The drive up window aspect should be able to be overcome at Lyons drugs, where an individual can come to the alley and deliver a prescription, for a more personal touch.

For 24 hour service, most people with a prescription either came from the hospital, which gives enough medication to make it to the next day. For a pain killer, sudafed or a minor over the counter thing after 11PM -6AM there is always 7-11 to help fill the void, neighbors.

Just because Walgreens is coming to town, does not mean they will be successful. Yes because of the capital markets they have a financial competitive advantage over Lyons drug. Though from a holistic perspective, having a lyons drug helping to anchor main street adds to the tourism value that its loss would be hard to fill.

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