City Council approves Meadows 4-3
Post Independent Staff
GLENWOOD SPRINGS – Developer Skip Miller insisted he wasn’t making threats, but warned that retailer Target would likely abandon its plans to build at Glenwood Meadows if his proposed variances were denied.
The major development permit for the Meadows shopping center, with 51 special conditions, was approved by City Council in a 4-3 vote Thursday during a special meeting.
While the development permit was approved, debate over two controversial variances led Miller to warn council that striking down any variance could jeopardize the whole project.
One proposed variance would allow Miller’s commercial development company, Miller-Weingarten, to avoid building second-story apartments or offices on the buildings that line Market Street in the heart of the development.
Miller told City Council that he needed the variance or the project wouldn’t happen.
“I don’t make threats and it’s not an ultimatum, but we cannot justify an investment in a second story,” he said.
He also warned council, “When you vote on this, think of the entire project, because that’s what you’re doing.”
Miller said his client Target would most likely bow out if the second-story units were compulsory because the extra units would need parking on the street that would decrease Target’s parking. The retail giant has said it will open a 125,000-square-foot store at Meadows in August 2005.
Miller has repeatedly said second story apartments, or even offices, don’t work in these types of developments.
“We don’t think it makes any sense,” he said.
Despite Miller’s arguments, four city councilmen said Miller’s proposed switch from two-story buildings to one-story buildings with a faux two-story look is too much of a change from the original annexation and development agreement.
“The reason this is being considered is because of an economic reason, which we can’t consider,” Councilman Dan Richardson said.
Richardson was referring to Miller’s other argument that second-story apartments and offices are not economically feasible.
Council members Jean Martensen and Don Gillespie and Mayor Don Vanderhoof each said they thought the variance was worth granting because the project, as a whole, was worth it.
“I’m betting this project is going to be a success and the developer said it doesn’t work,” Gillespie said. “So I’m more than willing to give them this variance.”
Martensen said the shopping center’s design is award-worthy.
Councilmen Larry Emery and Dave Merritt also spoke against only having one-story buildings on Market Street.
“When you bring that down, it changes the dynamic of the whole street,” Emery said.
Merritt said the variance, to him, was “where we start to diverge from what originally was approved.”
Councilman Rick Davis also spoke against giving the developer his requested variance. He said two-story buildings on Market Street would help to keep the area vibrant.
“I always liked the idea of two-story buildings,” he said. “I still agree with council’s feeling that this is the single biggest shift.”
Davis suggested the possibility of a middle-ground variance. He said maybe not all the buildings would be required to have two stories, but “a good percentage of them should.”
In a 4-3 vote on the variance exempting Miller-Weingarten from building the second-story units, council members Vanderhoof, Gillespie, Martensen and Davis voted to grant the variance. Council members Emery, Merritt and Richardson voted to deny.
Davis later said he changed his mind during the meeting on whether to allow the variance after hearing from community development director Andrew McGregor.
“It persuaded me,” Davis said. “It was and has been an evolutionary process.”
The other variance that has prompted much discussion through the many Glenwood Meadows meetings leading up to Thursday’s was one that modified the “wrap” on the outside of Lowe’s.
In the original annexation and development agreement, one condition called for stores built outside the big-box retailers to mask their bulk and provide a larger shopping choice.
In Miller-Weingarten’s design, however, the wrap proposed for Lowe’s was the store’s garden center.
Merritt compared the overall original design of the Glenwood Meadows retail center to shopping for art.
“It’s gone from a Remington to a Monet to a Picasso,” he said. “And I’m not sure I’m ready to buy a Picasso.”
Contact Greg Masse: 945-8515, ext. 511
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