Group looking to develop former Glenwood Springs Safeway receives feedback from community at first pre-application open house

Carolyn Meadowcroft from Habitat for Humanity was one of many members of the community to attend the open house for possible development at the old Glenwood Springs Safeway
Cassandra Ballard/ Post Independent

The pre-application open house for the Glenwood Springs Safeway lot development had quite a turnout from members of the community. 

The event was hosted by RGE Group LLC and partners Norris Design.

The room was packed throughout the meeting, as members of the community came in to see what the developers and architects might be proposing — and the opinions were very mixed.

Opinions ranged from wanting more parking while some wanted less; others wanted there to be less residential rentals and more for-sale housing; and some were hoping to see more senior-housing options. 

Some people wanted less housing or no housing altogether, and many wanted another grocery store. 

One local resident, Tim Malloy, said he wasn’t completely opposed to the idea, but he was concerned by the high density of the proposal. He also wasn’t sure he was comfortable with the height of the proposed buildings, especially since all of the surrounding buildings would be a story or two lower. 

The current sketches propose closer to three or 3.5 stories tall.  

Malloy, along with a few of his neighbors who all live close to the property, handed out a letter they wrote voicing their main concerns, including density issues, additional traffic congestion and public safety. 

The letter also stated that the housing type be more transitional with a variety of housing types, instead of having density rentals right next to a single-family home neighborhood.  

“The population generated by the proposed project would be equivalent to 4.6% of the city’s total population,” the letter stated. 

One aspect that was shared by many who are pro-housing was wanting more of the housing to be affordable for the local workforce. Many members were not happy with just allowing more free-market housing. 

Tess Vanderhoof, who lives close to the proposed development, said she would appreciate something that could house local teachers and firefighters because of the concern for low retention of jobs for people who are a necessity to the community. 

The inclusionary housing requirement in Glenwood Springs is right now, with 20% deed restrictions on units of 10 or more, capped at 100% Area Median Income (AMI) and starts studio apartments at more than $1,600.

Traffic was another large concern, especially since the property is located in a central location on Grand Avenue. 

Though the original plan did claim that it aims to have residents live and work on the same property, employees who work retail or most commercial jobs make minimum wage or middle-level salary jobs — not the $66,000 required to afford the 100% AMI deed restrictions or cost of the free-market apartments. 

Since this is the process before the application could be sent in, it might be too early for recording numbers. But surveying is something else community members are hoping to see. 

Bud Tymczyszyn, a local resident said he hopes they do a lot of surveying to find the best answers from the community in the future. 

Many members of the community showed up to see potential plans for development at the closed Glenwood Springs Safeway lot.
Cassandra Ballard/ Post Independent

The developer, Scott Russell, said that he would be fully open to partnerships and any other possibilities to create more affordable or workforce housing without completely losing profits on his part.

“Us listening, instead of shoving things down people’s throats, I think it’s gonna be a success,” he said. “We’re going to be united at some point.”

He said he’s lived in the Roaring Fork Valley for more than 30 years and has seen the Safeway sit there for a long time. He has been talking to the city about developing the land into something for about a year now in hopes of filling the abandoned lot. 

Construction costs are the biggest barrier for RGE Group LLC when it comes to creating for-sale units instead of rentals, he said. 

Recent legislation for both local and statewide funding options for workforce housing like the 2C ballot initiative that passed in the November election were created to benefit these exact kinds of projects.

Russell and members of Habitat for Humanity Roaring Fork Valley, who were present during Thursday’s meeting, sounded possibly interested in talking about a partnership, but nothing confirmed this early in the process. 

For grocery store demands, Trader Joe’s doesn’t usually go to rural communities because of its distribution routes, but they are usually persuaded by community petitioning, especially on a large scale. 

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