John Scarffe, Black Hawk. The Black Hawk City Council approved Canyon Casino’s request for a minor subdivision plat but continued a request for a parking lot and garage during a regular meeting at 3 p.m. on Wednesday, December 13, at 211 Church Street. Vince Harris with Baseline Corporation presented two resolutions for Canyon Casino.
The first resolution would conditionally approve the Minor Subdivision Plat, titled Canyon Black Hawk Subdivision Filing #1. The second would conditionally approve a certificate of appropriateness and site development plan to construct a parking lot and parking garage and approve variances from the zoning ordinance.
The City of Black Hawk has received a Minor Plat application from JIJE, LLC, concerning its property located at 131 Main Street, according to the request for Council action. The application is a request for a minor subdivision plat to vacate numerous internal lot lines and create a single legal parcel for the future development of a parking garage.
Further approvals are required. This proposed agreement is close to being complete, according to the request. The site is located south of Main Street, north of Bobtail Street, west of the recently approved Dakota parking lot, and includes the Canyon Casino building on the west, according to the request.
The property currently comprises all or a portion of about 38 platted lots and previously vacated Rights of Way within Blocks 36, 37, 38, 46 and 47 of the City of Black Hawk. The Minor Subdivision will result in a single platted lot, Lot 1 Canyon Black Hawk Subdivision Filing #1, according to the request.
The property is 3.6 acres in size and is zoned Gaming Outstanding Lodging & Dining (GOLD) Zone District. The property has been developed into a terraced parking lot for the former patrons of the now vacant Canyon Casino.
The existing surface parking lot improvements include rock retaining walls, decorative fencing, lighting and access improvements, according to the request. Past rock wall cuts have been left in a variety of conditions from bare untreated cuts and exposed mesh rock-fall fencing to shotcrete treatment.
These previous rock cuts have, in some places, extended to the top of the property and north edge of Bobtail Street. Small portions of the south side of the property, fronting Bobtail Street, have been left unexcavated. The existing parking lot is currently being used as a construction staging area for the construction activities on the adjacent Dakota parking lot project.
A separate application has been submitted by JIJE, LLC, concerning the development of a parking garage and surface lot on this property. Preliminary proposed plans for site improvements have been submitted by the applicant.
Staff suggests that the agreement be completed as soon possible, but prior to, or concurrent with, the review of the certificate of appropriateness and variances for the parking garage and associated development. Staff will provide a list of corrections or redlined plans to the applicant of any items that may need minor typographical editing by the applicant, and the applicant shall accommodate the changes before the final Mylar plat document and Subdivision and Site Improvements Agreement are finalized. The applicant must obtain an Excavation Permit from the City.
Harris told the Council that the above street level retaining wall would be removed, and it would be excavated. The gaming boundary runs through the middle of the site. Main Street is on the lower end, and Bobtail on the upper end.
“It’s complete and ready to be approved,” Harris said. Staff recommends approval with two conditions. They need to vacate a couple of easements no longer needed by the city. Before excavation occurs, the owner must get a permit and go through that process. There will be a parking lot on the site as well.
City Attorney Corey Hoffmann said the resolution does authorize the excavation, but what remains is what will be built on that site. These are not rights of way, so they can be vacated as a part of the new plat. The Council approved the resolution for the minor subdivision.
Regarding the request for a Certificate of Appropriateness for a Canyon Casino Parking Garage and lot, Harris said the proposed three-level garage and surface lot with nine parking spaces will have a total of 399 parking spaces, and visitors will be able to go back and forth to the Lodge Casino.
They propose partial surface treatment next to the Dakota site with sculpted concrete, Harris said. The GOLD district has a requirement for a 10-foot setback. Those are the two variances proposed.
The three-story first level is subterranean, and the parking lot will connect with Dakota. The slope on the backside would have to be modified, Harris said. It would remain a mixture of shotcrete and mesh in the back. It will be 20 to 25 feet high — sculpted concrete.
Alderman Hal Midcap said the front façade looks very contemporary. Mayor David Spellman said we can talk about design.
Harris said that the flood plain is not resolved, and the two variances have been historically taken care of through the Planned Unit Development (PUD) process. Spellman asked Harris, “If you had a better understanding of what is going on with the Dakota and the Canyon sites, you would be able to make a recommendation. It’s a ten-foot sidewalk, and that’s what council wants.”
Harris said that recently approved building architecture in Black Hawk has arched windows and a historic design. He recommended that since all criteria has not been addressed, the Council should continue this to a date in the future so conditional items can be resolved and they can work on design.
Applicant Dave Grenunwald from Hudson, Ohio, said that the prior resolution allows us to keep going. “I am the one who decided not to do a PUD. There’s nothing concrete, and a PUD is to show an expected development.”
“Our intention here was to clean up the street and put in parking. I was here 20 years ago, and what we’re putting in here today is nothing like that. It could be a casino, could be hotel rooms,” Grenunwald said. “We’re not the kind of developer who puts out pretty designs. This was an effort to deal with the whole street with a parking garage in the middle and surface parking on both sides.
“It was an effort to get cars off the street. What we seek is some guidance. I saw the design and said earlier today that to try to make a parking garage look like a retail outlet doesn’t make sense. They don’t want you to build a new building that looks like an old building, but I’m open to design ideas,” Grenunwald said.
Spellman suggested that he do the sculpted concrete all the way down. It would make sense to finish it out. It’s a nasty looking hillside. Council would like to have that covered as soon as possible.
Spellman asked the Aldermen, “Are you good with relieving them of sculpted concrete on the back wall? It’s not going to change the appearance. Relieve them of that and continue on where it does wrap around.
“I’m confident you will work with staff and get the setbacks resolved,” Spellman said.
“It is a very contemporary design. It has no personality. That’s a prominent place on the Main Street block.”
Spellman suggested looking at the Lady Luck parking structure and the Monarch Casino treatment tied into the ultimate structure. “Yours looks like 1950s. Use some awnings for character. An arch would help a great deal.”
Grenunwald said: “I’m going to leave here and go look at Lady Luck.” The Council continued the hearing until January 10.
The December 27 meeting of the Black Hawk City Council has been canceled.
(Originally published in the December 21, 2017 print edition of The Mountain-Ear.)