Several changes to Mountaineer Square North plan
Crested Butte Mountain Resort’s (CBMR) latest iteration of Mountaineer Square North seems a leap ahead of its predecessor, but despite the improvements and new features, the Mt. Crested Butte Planning Commission feels the proposed development still has some challenges to overcome.
CBMR representatives appeared before the Planning Commission with a revised plan for Mountaineer Square North during a public hearing on April 3. “It’s good to be back,” said CBMR director of planning John Sale. Sale said the new version of the plan was scaled down, incorporated new locations for the town’s proposed aquatic center and a new grocery market, and had several other new features and changes.
Last fall CBMR began a series of public hearings to solicit comments on plans for Mountaineer Square North, a proposed large-scale development planned for just north of the resort’s current base area in Mt. Crested Butte.
In December, CBMR opted to postpone the public hearing process until a later date in order to incorporate elements of a recently completed branding study conducted by the resort. Sale says, “We were charged with finding what is true about Crested Butte, what is meaningful to our guests, and what is distinctive about Mountaineer Square North that makes it different from other ski area developments.”
The lead designer of Mountaineer Square North, Chris Dunn with California-based planning firm EDAW, says at the beginning of January the design team made a fresh start on the development.
Dunn said one of the big changes was made in the circulation of pedestrians and traffic through the development.
Dunn said the new circulation plan provides a bigger throat into the property’s parking garages and service access for delivery trucks. Dunn said the new plans would give service and delivery drivers more immediate access to the intended buildings. “We feel it’s a much better circulation solution,” Dunn said.
“The other thing this plan does, which we’re very happy about, is right out in front of the aquatic center is some short-term parking,” Dunn said. The short-term parking is depicted in two areas along Emmons Road, which would remain the town’s property.
In addition to being completely ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant, the site also features special working access points for fire trucks and police, which prevent emergency vehicles from having to drive through the site on a pedestrian path to reach any of the buildings. “The fire department is looking at this is a very positive way,” Dunn said
Next, Dunn discussed the new building concepts. Dunn said the building footprints may seem big when compared to the old plan, but the buildings had been scaled down considerably in terms of height and mass.
Planning Commission member Sara Morgan asked how tall the tallest building was.
Dunn said the tallest building was 68 feet on average, or five stories, but the highest point would be 78 feet. Dunn said the largest building would still be visibly smaller than the Lodge at Mountaineer Square.
Altogether CBMR projects 402 residential units in the development, including 30 community housing units, and the potential for the town to build nearly 70 units next to the aquatic center. Sale said the resort is only considering building 305 market value residential units.
A grocery market is shown in the middle of the property, behind the aquatic center. Dunn said, “The intent of the market is, it’s not a Clarks, it’s not a replacement for that, it’s kind of a convenience store—bread, milk and some staples,” Dunn said.
The town’s planning consultant Julie Ann Woods asked the commission to consider if the size was adequate. “My experience going to other ski towns and their specialty markets… those are running right around 11,000 square feet. This is quite a bit smaller,” she said.
Mt. Crested Butte resident Craig McManus believed the market was too small to be useful. He also asked if a post office was being considered. Planning Commission member Tom Steuer said a post office might be considered as part of the proposed North Village development.
Dunn then invited Dave Kaselak, an architect with Zehren and Associates, to the floor to talk about the development’s architecture. Kaselak said the new designs incorporated some unique rooflines and materials that speak to the activity and excitement inherent in Mt. Crested Butte. Kaselak showed architectural sketches of the aquatic center and the market building. “They are wonderful community amenities for Mt. Crested Butte that are right at the front door of the master plan,” Kaselak said. “This wouldn’t necessarily be the architecture appropriate for the rest of the plan. The other stuff would be a little quieter. But it’s important to express your branding principles at the key buildings,” he said.
Lee Barger, a traffic engineer with Schmueser Gordon Meyer, said the new plans would create similar traffic impacts as the old plan, primarily along Gothic Road. Some potential solutions include additional turning and acceleration lanes along Gothic Road, as well as adding a roundabout at the intersection of Treasury and Gothic.
CBMR vice president of real estate Michael Kraatz said the roadway improvements were not being proposed as a part of Mountaineer Square North, but were highlighted as potential options for the town to consider as build out progresses.
Finally, Dunn said the development would still be constructed in phases. “We’re going to start on the north end of the site and work our way south.” He said the phasing would make managing parking for the ski area easier as construction progresses. The town’s aquatic center would be included in the first phase, Dunn said.
“I think this is a big improvement,” Woods said of the overall plan.
Mt. Crested Butte resident Jim Sharpe was also pleased with the plans. “I’m pretty excited about what I saw here. This thing is a different animal. This is something to be proud of. This is a place to go hang out… The bottom line is kudos to the guy who turned this around,” Sharpe said. However, Sharpe expressed concern about the amount of heated snowmelt areas the resort was considering. He said with the rising cost of energy and concern about global warming, other options should be considered to keep the sidewalks clear.
With some lingering transportation, parking, and building use issues, Woods recommended the commission keep the public hearing open to allow additional public comment as more details are revealed.
The public hearing to discuss the Mountaineer Square North plans was continued to 6 p.m. on Wednesday, April 30.