Downtown development passes first phase

John Scarffe, Nederland.  The Nederland Planning Commission considered a Planned Unit Development (PUD) Concept application and conducted a Public Hearing for Ron Mitchell during a regular meeting at 7 p.m., October 25, 2017, at the Nederland Community Center. Mitchell’s concept involves the Commercial Business District (CBD) zoning district, and three lots in the Lakeview Heights Replat A, which are in the Medium Density Residential (MDR) and Low Density Residential (LDR) zoning districts.


Applicant Ronald Mitchell wanted to evaluate and discuss his concept proposal for a Planned Unit Development (PUD), according to background. He would like feedback and recommendations as to whether this proposal meets direction of the Comprehensive Plan and is generally compatible with surrounding land uses.


Mitchell told the Board: “When a company names itself the Nederland Central Business District Redevelopment, LLC, it is quite obvious what the intent of that company is. The first property obtained in the downtown area by the company was the Rock Shop on the corner of Highway 119 and First Street in 1985.


“Other residential properties had been obtained during approximately the 20 years before that. In the following 30 years after buying the Rock Shop, it has been the sole tenant in that building since its purchase,” Mitchell said.


This proposal notes five different locations to be developed within the proposal, according to background. The first would be the Hillside Workforce Housing in MDR zoning, 37,600 square-feet with 16 residential units (studio, 1, 2, and 3 bedrooms), workforce housing and 16 covered and eight uncovered parking spaces.


The second area is the Snyder/Conger Workforce Housing in HDR zoning, 50,530 square feet with 16 residential units and would include the dedication of easement for north-south multimodal connection between E. 1st Street and Lakeview Drive over Middle Boulder Creek and a detention/water quality pond at the south edge of the site to accommodate storm-water drainage from the Alpine Crossing project.


The third area would be Jackson and 1st Street in CBD zoning, 14,038 square feet with a 5,000 square foot restaurant on 2nd floor, with underground parking (11 spaces plus on-street parking) plus additional eight parking spaces on Lots 7-8.


The fourth, Alpine Crossing, will be Mixed Use / Flex Use in CBD zoning, 87,281square feet with the Downtown Core including a hotel (120 rooms – 70 hotel, 50 flex rooms), Residential (43 Units), Retail/Restaurant, 28,000square feet with Gallery space and Art studios, Offices and Services and potential for an Entertainment District by closing off E. 1st Street for special events.


The fifth location will be the Alpine Crossing Service Site in CBD zoning, 22,942 square feet for two 5,000 square feet “Old Mill” buildings to incorporate mechanical, wood, electrical, repair, sewing shops, inside parking for hotel vehicles, staff break room, receiving area, laundry and recycling/composting facilities, emergency response equipment, heating and air conditioning equipment, conference room storage and the solar array proposed to utilize renewable energy.


Considerations in this proposal include whether the Planning Commission would allow increased density beyond the yard and bulk requirements per zoning district, according to background. Most of the lots within the proposal are already developed, thus the plan proposes to redevelop most of these sites.


Utility services are near to the sites, including water and sewer main lines. The mixed uses are in keeping with the district, although the proposed densities are much higher than presently existing.


Mitchell told the Board that as the company obtained more properties in the downtown area, the community has had many consultants visit the downtown area, many studies have been done and the Town has developed documents that reflect the visions and probable needs of the area for decades to come. Three comprehensive plans have been developed and changed about every 10 years, Vision 2020 was developed.


“Several Charrettes have been given by rather noteworthy personalities in the field of small town downtown revitalization such as Dan Burden and Joe Minicozzi,” Mitchell said. “A housing needs assessment has been done. An infrastructure study was done.


“At no expense to the DDA, or the Town of Nederland, a Colorado non-profit company that specializes in helping small towns renew and reinvigorate, Downtown Colorado, Inc., came to Nederland under the auspices of our Downtown Development Authority with a group of architects. They did one of the conceptual drawings included in tonight’s presentation.


“It depicts potential renovation for the south side of First Street from Highway 119 to Snyder Street. One concept represented there is that of setting back upper floors. Our presentation uses that concept,” Mitchell said.


“Then the DDA and DCI brought Joe Minnicozzi, a nationally recognized expert, who demonstrated quite graphically the huge tax revenue potential that could be brought to the town of Nederland by redevelopment,” Mitchell said. “It was compelling. Unfortunately few citizens attended.


“Prior to that, the Nederland Central Business District, LLC, held three open houses almost two years ago to solicit community input and ideas for redevelopment. In total, about 300 people attended,” Mitchell said.


“All of these documents representing the community’s desires and dreams were given to some of the best architects and city planners locally available – Oz Architecture Company and Blackwood and Company, respectfully, with these absolute stipulations – address, develop and put on paper a conceptual plan that fulfills the requirements, precepts, concepts and spirit of these documents.


“When you are done, create a matrix for each document to demonstrate, in detail, how you have complied, citing page and line of each of these documents that can be easily read and verified by the reader. Those matrices are at the end of this presentation on the blue pages,” Mitchell said.


“Dave Carson has spent a lifetime career with Oz Architecture firm and has designed everything from dog houses to entire cities and has come out of retirement to do this one last project after much pressure and cajoling from me. He know his stuff. With his skill, ability, training and decades of experience he will be hard to stump. He has been working on this project off and on for over 10 years.


“Nancy Blackwood, too, has had a lifelong career in city planning, design and function. Her research on everything from traffic circulation to human circulation, and her coordination, dedication, expertise and ability to focus on great detail have kept this project on track and steadily moving forward,” Mitchell said.


Nancy Blackwood told the Board that the Alpine Crossing and Service Site contains about a 12-to-14-feet drop from Conger Street, so they want to do some creative things with this site. It would be a mixed use, flex-use two-acre site. The gateway and heart would include a hotel, restaurants, residential and artists, with galleries on the first floor.


Key elements would include public parking under the hotel and loading service between First and Second streets. Carson told the Board that two levels of parking will be underneath the site. Second and Bridge streets are the lowest level, so they will be taking advantage of the sloping site for two accesses.


The hotel block will be a standalone hotel in the mountain tradition like the Jerome Hotel in Aspen — a building that has stood the test of time. “That’s the kind of architecture we want to have here,” Carson said, the vernacular of great hotels. It will use modern and contemporary materials but related to the past.”


The hotel is meant to be classic in design with good materials of brick and stone, and lots of balconies. The unifying element is the use of a stone face to the project.


The project will include two story townhomes. A bridge element crosses over Paseo.


The east block will be a mercantile block like you see in many mountain towns.


Planning Commission Chair Roger Cornell said that it’s a concept. Mitchell will have a preliminary and final PUD hearing.
During public comment, no one spoke against the proposal and 14 people spoke in favor of it. Mark Covey said, “I’ve known Ron a long time, and he has wanted to make this happen for a long time He wants the best for this town. It will give us better parking, and we need another road across the creek. I like it and vote for it.”


A resident who lives near the project hopes it is true there will be full communication about this project as it proceeds, including road closures etc. She doesn’t know if the road will carry it with the increase of population downtown and in the summer. Is the town capable to support this huge project?


Cindy Shaw, who owns the Pioneer Inn building and business, said she has been very concerned because this is the block she’s on. The Paseo has trucks come through and it’s a safety issue. Big trucks are an impediment on the community.
Shaw provides jobs to dishwashers. Try to pay one and see if he can live in this community. “I think this is the best plan and I have grilled him hard, Shaw said, and Mitchell hollered “True,” from the audience.


“I think we can make this work,” Shaw said. “We talk about sustainability and going into the future. This is thinking about that. I feel comfortable about this.


“Let’s try and work together and make this happen and not wait 10 years. It’s important with the problems we have in town not to get stalemated. It makes a lot of difference to me personally and economically,” Shaw said.


Gary Packerek with the Brain Freeze business called Ron Mitchell Nederland’s Godfather. “He’s an old man. He’s in this for the people of Nederland. He’s proposed something that will benefit all of us – more income coming into the community, extra parking spaces. More revenue for the town. Buildings could use some upgrading. Property values will go up because we have a hotel there. More to do, bands, street performers. I see this as a huge opportunity for Nederland.”


One Brown Mouse Owner Kathleen Chippi said she wants to thank Ron for taking our public opinion. “I’m not familiar with developers taking input like Ron has. In my 16-year relationship with Ron, his heart is in this project, and I’ve seen him help the community when it comes to housing, business or legal problems. I like the project and I like to see the changes that have been made. His project meets the requirements this community has been striving for.”


Cornell said that under the PUD the Planning Commission has a month to respond. It is a lot to look at since Friday. Asked about his timeline, Mitchell said his first phase will be the smallest — moving the Pioneer Inn and will do best to create the façade, booths and décor with a couple of other shops there.


Next will be housing, Mitchell said. Two housing developments will be the next thing to be done. “We need one and two bedroom units for entry level workers. If someone applies first preference will be given to people who have jobs in Nederland.”


The last phase will be the hotel itself. Construction workers will have to stay in Nederland. He would like to do one project a year, so a five-to-six year time frame.


Cornell said that it doesn’t comply with current zoning. They will need feedback from Town staff and attorney as to how we affect this. The Planning Commission approved Mitchell going next to the preliminary PUD.



(Originally published in the November 2, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)