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Glenwood Springs City Council not happy with auto dealerships’ changed design

Pete FowlerPost Independent Staff Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

GLENWOOD SPRINGS – A design for new auto dealerships in west Glenwood Springs is mundane, the City Council said Thursday.Council’s comments came in response to a proposal for the location of the 1st Choice Inns and the Budget Host hotels, which will be torn down to make room for the dealerships.A source of disappointment was the switch from a proposed three-story facility to two separate buildings measuring 20,000 and 22,000 square feet. One would house a Honda dealership, and the other would have Subaru and Nissan dealerships. Current facilities for those dealerships in south Glenwood Springs would be redeveloped.City officials had praised Vista Auto Group’s three-story plans as an innovative design representing the future of development in Glenwood Springs – building upwards and conserving land. Vista officials said those plans were scrapped because it proved too difficult to satisfy the guidelines of each manufacturer in just one building.Councilor Russ Arensman said the three-story design would have been something really different, in the direction Glenwood needs to be going.”To me this looks pretty ordinary, to tell you the truth,” Arensman said of the two-story structures. “The sides are just ugly.”He was pleased with the green in the landscaping plan and the decision to keep large cottonwoods at the back of the site, if the landscaping is actually done that way.Councilor Dave Merritt said, “I was very disappointed to see the loss of the multi-story. It was very innovative.”He said he’s disappointed with the current architectural layout, calling it “mundane” and adding that the “vast expanses” of flat wall need to be broken up somehow.Mayor Bruce Christensen said, “You guys came to us with a conceptual on a different project, and you were telling us that project was great because it wasn’t going to be what this project is.”Mike Simpson, an architect with Vista, said the Elk Mountain car dealership project in Glenwood is a good example of what Vista wants to accomplish at its site. He spoke at a conceptual review with the City Council on Thursday.Some councilors disliked the corporate design standards the manufacturers insisted on. One standard distasteful to councilors was Honda’s statement to Vista that its building must be entirely white or off-white.”We realize your corporate identities or desires of your building,” said Councilor Dave Johnson. “But also keep in mind we have a city character we’re trying to maintain.”Councilor Dave Sturges said, “I think compatibility with this area is going to be a huge challenge, and I hope you have some success in carrying that back to the manufacturers. I don’t anticipate necessarily a great deal of neighborhood cheering about this, and I think that you’re going to have to approach the issue of aesthetics and visual impact. This battle between functionality and compatibility is a difficult one. … I think the community deserves some really exceptional work here.”Councilor Kris Chadwick said, “I would agree with Russ that this plan seems very ordinary. I would really encourage you to pursue a higher standard.”Some councilors added that lighting is a huge concern. One benefit of the previous plan was that “there weren’t going to be acres of cars under bright lights,” Christensen said.”I think it’s time that Honda, Chevrolet and all of these other companies learn that when they come into communities they are members of these communities,” he added later. “We are not members of their corporation, and we don’t necessarily want their identity.”Vista purchased the 1st Choice Inns in November for $4.9 million and the Budget Host in August for $1.3 million. A mobile home property east of the Village Green Apartments is also under contract for sale to make way for an access road to the apartments from the east, instead of the current route between the two hotels. Vista has donated an undisclosed amount to Catholic Charities to benefit people displaced from about 142 rooms between the two hotels.Ron Liston, a local architect working with Vista, said it was unfortunate the previous plan couldn’t work out.”We are disappointed also,” he said. “Be that as it may, our goal is to be good neighbors to the community and do everything we can to make this work for everybody.”Contact Pete Fowler: 384-9121pfowler@postindependent.comPost Independent, Glenwood Springs Colorado CO


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