Carbondale town board approves Sopris Shopping Center redevelopment

Tenants given extra month to relocate

A rendering of the planned Carbondale Center Place development where the Sopris Shopping Center now sits, as seen looking east across state Highway 133 with the residential building at left and the commercial building on the right.
Neo Studio Architects

Carbondale’s town trustees gave the thumbs-up Tuesday night to the new Carbondale Center Place mixed-use development near the intersection of Colorado Highway 133 and Main Street.

The plan calls for 76 residential rental units, a three-story expansion of the existing Sopris Self-Storage business and 10,000 square feet of commercial/retail space.

It was approved on a 6-1 vote of the town Board of Trustees following a public hearing at the board’s regular Tuesday meeting.

The redevelopment is to replace the existing 30,000 square-foot Sopris Shopping Center at the corner of Highway 133 and Colorado Avenue and the adjacent self-storage facility to the east.

Nine businesses had been operating in the 1960s-era shopping center up until last month, including four restaurants, when they were given final notice to vacate.

Some leases have since been extended through March to give businesses extra time to relocate, property management representatives confirmed on Wednesday.

One, Ming’s Cafe, was separately approved for a liquor license Tuesday night for its planned move into one of the commercial spaces attached to the new Carbondale City Market store, located directly across Highway 133 to the west.

Others, including the Ragged Mountain Sports consignment store, have said they are finalizing relocation plans to be announced, and some, including the Los Cabos and El Pollo Rico Mexican restaurants, had already decided not to reestablish elsewhere.

Trustees applauded the local developers and property owner Dr. Ron Stein of California for the project design, and for incorporating some of the earlier comments from the board and the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission.

“I do think this is a well-thought-out project,” Mayor Dan Richardson said, noting that it addresses the town’s identified needs in regards to housing and in meeting a design designation in Carbondale’s 2013 comprehensive plan called “New Urban.”

“Old commercial and old housing can’t last forever,” the mayor commented.

Fifteen of the residential units are to be designated as “affordable,” with rents based on certain income categories, per the town code.

And, the design itself fits with the town’s vision for highway frontage development, he and other trustees agreed, with one referring to it as “presenting a new face of Carbondale.”

However, Richardson ended up casting the lone “no” vote over two concerns.

One concern was the included development of a three-story self-storage facility with climate-controlled units, which he said works against the project’s stated net-zero energy efficiency goals.

Second, Richardson was hoping for some sort of contribution from the developer toward the town’s efforts to build a roundabout a short distance north of the project at Highway 133 and Nieslanik Way.

Because the highway entryway into the development is to be right-in, right-out only, Richardson and other trustees pointed out that the roundabout would be helpful in allowing motorists to quickly turn around and head back south on 133.

Instead, to go south, anyone leaving the development will either have to exit and reenter Highway 133 from the west side, or travel several blocks to the east and then back to Main and 133.

Members of the project team — which includes Tom Siciliano of Stein Properties LLC and Jack Schrager of the LLC that’s leading the development — noted that the project is not expected to generate as much traffic as there is currently in and out of the shopping center.

Some concessions were also made on the energy efficiency front, including plans to make the mixed-use building net zero and to include four on-site electric vehicle charging stations.

Final approval of the project is expected at the Board of Trustees’ March 23 meeting.

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