Sixth Street Station gains development approval

“They responded to past criticism”

The proposed Sixth Street Station development has gained a major approval from Crested Butte officials and a big step toward possibly happening. The Crested Butte Board of Zoning and Architectural Review (BOZAR) approved the four block PUD (Planned Unit Development) project last week with several conditions after almost ten hours of review over two evening meetings. A PUD allows larger sites to be considered in the town review process with some major flexibility.
The developers will return to BOZAR in June with updated drawings that address some of the BOZAR conditions.

 

 

The project totals 61,716 square feet. Three restaurant spaces are included, as is an 18-unit “fractional ownership” hotel that can be divided into 42 separate rooms. The project includes 132 underground parking spaces. The development would stretch along the west side of Sixth Street essentially from the Gothic softball field to the field across from the Gas Café.
After BOZAR turned down the proposal two years ago due to the size and massing of some of the buildings on Block C, the developers returned with some changes that satisfied the Board. View corridors were enhanced and the large buildings were “stepped down” to make them feel less massive.
“This was the Boards’ main block the last time,” explained BOZAR chairperson Liz Sawyer. “If you compare the changes they made to the proposal a few years ago, the massing has changed quite a bit and the view corridors are much better.”
“I think they responded to past criticism and it looks good,” stated BOZAR member Andris Zobs.
“It’s a large building but they’ve done a nice job stepping it down. I can support it,” added board member Bob Vandervoort.
This made the developers happy. “We think it all went very well,” stated Sixth Street Station partner and architect Gary Hartman. “There wasn’t a lot of public opposition. We listened to BOZAR and made some changes. We really think this will be a good addition to town. Now we have three years to get it started.”
Under town regulations, once approval is given to a development project, there is a three-year vested property right. After three years, if the project does not have a building permit, the proponents would have to gain another approval.
“We’re very happy. Overall, we’re all really excited,” said Hartman. “Now the clock is ticking and we have a three year vesting period to make this a reality. There are several things we need to look at. We need to acquire some bank financing, the real estate market in Crested Butte has to turn around and we have to see how the affordable housing requirements shake out. The biggest thing is probably the state of the real estate market and there have been some glimmers of hope recently.”
During the course of the two meetings last week, there were some changes required by BOZAR in color, material and slight architectural elements. Based on public comments by local resident Sue Navy, the board also asked the developers to not allow a wood burning fire pit as part of the project. There were originally two pits planned. One pit will be eliminated and a pit on Block C will be fired with natural gas.
“The town has a wood burning ordinance. I don’t think it would be good to allow wood burning in this fire pit,” Navy said. “We don’t need to add to the air particulates in town. The fire pit feels like it is in conflict with our ‘green’ principles that we talk about. Maybe that space could be used as a barbeque area instead. Gas wouldn’t be as bad as burning wood.”
The board ultimately agreed that gas would be a better idea and the developers agreed to the changes and the construction of one pit instead of two.
Zobs expressed vocal concern with the look of an outdoor elevator door but also felt strongly that having time-share units as part of the project would be detrimental to the town. “The marketing elements of time-shares scare me,” said Zobs. “Fractional ownership also doesn’t seem to support the community. It is, after all, fractional. But that is outside the scope of our consideration.”
“Our target is someone who can’t afford a house here,” responded Hartman. “These people will come to town, eat at the restaurants, shop at the stores and experience the valley. They’ll support this place. We think they’ll embrace the community and connect with Crested Butte.”
Town building director Bob Gillie told Zobs that the town ordinance puts limits on the type of marketing salespeople can use to try and sell the time-shares. “We’ve addressed some of the most egregious elements,” he said.
Neighbors Paula and Kirk Tjossem were represented by two attorneys at the BOZAR meetings. Both Crested Butte attorney David Leinsdorf and Montrose lawyer Steve Mathis argued that the scope of the project was too big and wasn’t appropriate for the neighborhood. Their clients built a small accessory dwelling on a lot directly next to one of the biggest proposed buildings in the development.
“They bought knowing the zoning but before this project was proposed,” explained Mathis. “The bottom line is that this development is not compatible with an R-1 residential or even the B-2 business zone. They feel this is excessively dissimilar.”
“They are suffering the very kinds of adverse impacts which your code prohibits,” added Leinsdorf.
But BOZAR disagreed despite the fact that the PUD shifted most of the mass of the project toward the existing Tjossem house.
Ultimately, the board voted unanimously to approve the proposed development.
As project attorney Chuck Cliggett said at the initial meeting last week, “No project is ever perfect. You will never, ever please everyone. But this project has been in the design process over five years and in the town process longer than four years. It is time for a resolution. We think this is a good project.”
“Ultimately we hope this project will help revitalize the north end of town,” added Hartman. “This isn’t in the historic core of Crested Butte. This is smart growth where development pays its own way.”
Hartman is scheduled to return to BOZAR June 26 with updated drawings dealing with the conditions imposed by the board that touches on things like architecture, colors and materials. Some of the other conditions will have to be met when they apply for building permits. As of now, the Sixth Street Station has the approval it has sought for the last four years. When construction will start, is still undecided.

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