Walgreens to rework plan | SteamboatToday.com

Walgreens to rework plan

Christine Metz

After less-than-favorable reviews from the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission, Walgreens has pulled its pre-application plans.

On Tuesday, the City Coun–cil was scheduled to review plans for a 14,820-square-foot Wal–greens and five other buildings on a 4.98-acre site at the northwest corner of U.S. Highway 40 and Pine Grove Road.

But after the Planning Com–mission’s negative feedback about the site’s layout, architectural design and lack of pedestrian connections, developers decided to forgo the council’s review and rework their plan.

The applicant is Pedersen Development Company of Boulder, on behalf of THF Real Estate of St. Louis. THF also owns the nearby Central Park Plaza shopping center.

Jorge Gonzalez, who is working on the project with Landmark Consultants, said the developers are trying to balance the needs of Walgreens with the needs of the community. When the revised plan is ready, they will come back to the Planning Commission.

“We did not want to go through that twice,” Gonzalez said about the council review. “We just assumed it would be the same response from the City Council as the Planning Commission.”

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City Planner Tim McHarg said he e-mailed Gonzalez after the April 14 Planning Commission meeting, suggesting the developers rework the plan. It is not common for a preapplication to be pulled from council review after the Planning Commission’s review, but McHarg said he didn’t see what additional feedback the developers would have received.

“They were given such an essentially unanimous ‘no thank you,’ I couldn’t see the City Council giving any positive feedback,” he said.

The proposal was the first to test the city’s new big-box ordinance. With a building larger than 12,000 square feet, the project had a more stringent review process than other commercial developments and had to prove above-average public benefit.

The plan brought before the Planning Commission on April 14 was the second one submitted to the city planning department. The first plan called for an unspecified fast-food restaurant with a drive-through window. The plan had two drive-through areas and no pedestrian connections between the buildings.

McHarg said it met fewer of the requirements in the city’s development code than the second plan.

“It was a very typical suburban design that didn’t reflect anything active,” McHarg said. “I don’t really think they looked at the zoning code.”

McHarg said the second plan was similar to other Walgreens developments on the Front Range.

Gonzalez said that the drive-through component to the Walgreens store is critical to the development’s marketing plan but that it also makes it harder to meet the city’s requests.

“For a mom with three sick kids in a minivan, it is a lot easier to sit in the car and pull in to the drive-through. That is an important competitive edge over other stores,” he said.

The developers would like to put the drive-through on the side of the building closest to U.S. 40, which would mean an area of asphalt between the street and the building.

But the city planning department would like to see the building moved closer to the corner of U.S. 40 and Pine Grove Road, giving the corner a strong pedestrian orientation. Across the street is Ski Haus, which planning commissioners said was a good model to follow.

“They definitely need to bring the building to the street. They need to make the entire development more pedestrian oriented. There is a lot of work to do on the building … to make the building essentially a reflection of the character in Steamboat Springs,” McHarg said.

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