A Reduced Four Corners Project Wins Encouragement

05/22/14 | By | More
Preliminary drawings of proposed new buildings on S. Fir St in Telluride.

Preliminary drawings of proposed new buildings on S. Fir St in Telluride.

The dedication of the iconic Telluride Transfer Warehouse to community use as a nonprofit campus, easements protecting the façade of the Baked in Telluride structure, preservation of the historic Stronghouse Building, and at least ten more years of a small grocery store in central Telluride – in exchange for larger condominium buildings on adjacent lots than would otherwise be permitted.

Those are the major elements of a proposal for development of the Four Corners in central Telluride, scaled back since last month after the developer withdrew an application for a General Waiver that would have offered more benefits in exchange for bigger variances.

At a conceptual level, the tradeoffs of the new proposal met with tentative approval at a joint meeting of Telluride’s Historic and Architectural Review and Planning & Zoning commissions on Thursday evening. But as large as the project is, and judging from public attendance at the meeting, there could be many reviews, tradeoffs and hurdles ahead before ground will be broken on the project.

Garrett Simon of the Telluride Transfer Company described the program: leaving the Baked in Telluride building – which is a replica of a historic building – alone; replacing the building that houses Village Market with a new building, with a market on the ground floor and condos above; a building with 19 condos on the lot south of the warehouse building, using the Stronghouse Building for a lobby and possibly a bar; and another smaller mixed use condo/retail building on the southeast corner of Fir and Pacific.

The public “campus” in the Transfer Warehouse building would be deed restricted to community use and developed by a new foundation, The Telluride Campus Foundation. If it is not developed by the foundation seven years after PUD approval, the building would be conveyed to the town, subject to the deed-restriction.

Simon was encouraged by members of the town boards to look at ways to preserve mature trees near the Stronghouse, consider setbacks on upper stories from the street, and extend the deed-restriction for a grocery story beyond ten years.

Members of the public variously expressed concerns and misgivings, and voiced support.

Harold Wondsel, who lives immediately next door to the southeast corner, said that renderings and elevations were misrepresentative of how large the buildings would be. Another neighbor, Mark Froehlich, said that buildings as tall as proposed would block sunlight and argued that the loss of parking on the lots that will be developed would harm neighborhood vitality.

Ben Jackson countered that it has been downzoning and the development of many large tracts “by right” that has reduced vitality in Telluride. A former P&Z member Chris Binner said he was “positive” about the proposal; Jim Pettegrew said he has been waiting thirty years for a project on the Four Corners and is “generally in favor” of what was proposed, although he would have preferred to incorporate planning for the “fourth corner,” even though it is owned by the town.

Thirty-year resident Cathy James said she was excited about the public benefits proposed as part of the project, especially the campus to support local nonprofits. Tim Cannon suggested more deed-restrictions than proposed, including a longer deed restriction for a grocery store and bakery. Michael Saftler expressed “appreciation to the developer” for scaling back the original proposal, but asked for more clarity on the project’s affordable housing mitigation.

Members of the two boards encouraged attention paid to parking issues, the Fir St. street front, and the nature of the affordable housing, but emphasized that the project had improved since its last presentation. More support of the Transfer Warehouse campus from the commercial development, beyond dedicating the land to a nonprofit that would have to finance construction and operations, was suggested. Direction from the boards at a work session is nonbinding.

Three formal steps will be required for approval: conceptual, preliminary and final review by both boards.

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