Property owners have until October 31 to vote
By Anika Pepper
Crested Butte South is not isolated from the current wave of development throughout the Gunnison Valley. More residents and more businesses located in the subdivision eight miles south of Crested Butte mean more development pressure. As such, current Crested Butte South property owners are being asked to vote on a measure this fall that would allow for taller commercial buildings in the Crested Butte South business district. The measure would permit the buildings in Block 6 to be three stories tall instead of the current height limit of two stories.
While Crested Butte South has seen a few new business operations open in the last couple of years, the main commercial area remains empty. The Crested Butte South Property Owners Association (POA) board has spent more than a year planning a mixed-use area that brings a town center feel to the subdivision with public gathering places. Crested Butte South POA manager Dom Eymere suggests that Block 6, the primary commercial parcel across from Tully’s and the General Store on the south end and Camp 4 Coffee on the north, might just be too big a bite to develop a major project all at once. “There is a million square feet of potential commercial space. Is it sustainable?” he asks.
Eymere and the POA hired economic developers from Cascadia Partners to look at how to activate the area. As a result, allowing a third story on commercial buildings as well as condensing the majority of commercial buildings to the south side of Block 6 while utilizing the north for more residential is part of the long-term development plan proposed by the Crested Butte POA.
There are approximately 52 lots in Crested Butte South that are zoned for both commercial and residential use. Of those 52 lots, only nine currently have building structures and are operating businesses. The amendment to Article 24.03 of the POA bylaws would dramatically change the types of businesses and structures that will eventually fill up the currently almost-empty commercial district of Crested Butte South.
The POA in Crested Butte South is looking to increase not only the amount of business in their community, but also the accessibility to said businesses. Allowing commercial structures to be approximately 10 feet higher at a 45-foot maximum would give developers the opportunity to add elevators and wheelchair lifts, thus creating accessible living and business opportunities to people with disabilities.
The increased building height would also allow the most up to date HVAC equipment to be built to code in these new buildings. The buildings in Block 6 would be mixed-use commercial and residential with commercial space occupying the first floor and the second and third floor being used as residential dwellings. Eymere suggests that the increased building height would allow for a diversity of housing options.
If the ballot issue is approved by the property owners, it will lead Crested Butte South in the direction of creating their own town center, thus beginning the process of creating what Eymere calls “The Crested Butte South Brand.”
“Town has the Arts District, but what do we have? We are looking to create an identity in Crested Butte South. We want to have community gathering spaces and culture and arts events,” he explained. Eymere stated the long-term development plan for Crested Butte South will also help create diversity of housing and incubate good businesses that can grow over time.
The current commercial building height restriction is found in a covenant originally written in 1970, which outlines the bylaws of Crested Butte South. When asked why this decision went to a ballot instead of a board vote, Eymere said, “The board of directors felt that we needed to do a proper sequence of a ballot. The covenant from 1970 is an antiquated document. It continues to cripple us. It’s our Achilles heel.”
Ballots are due back by October 31 and the proposed amendment needs 50 percent plus one to pass. A total of 949 ballots were sent out and approximately 170 have so far been returned.