Council: ‘River Landing’ worth further discussion
A highly conceptual plan for the former Grand Avenue Bridge north landing area at Sixth Street that would include a museum, performance theater, a rooftop restaurant and a public plaza is a step in the right direction, Glenwood Springs City Council members said Thursday.
That’s not to say other plans submitted as part of a city effort to solicit ideas for the newly acquired “gem” that came about with completion of the new bridge don’t have some merit, they said.
But the proposal put forward by David Brown of Stryker/Brown Architects and Douglas Pratte of Land Studio “grabs my imagination,” City Councilor Jim Ingraham offered during a Thursday work session with Downtown Development Authority board members to look over the various proposals.
The big question, though, “How does it pencil out from a finance perspective?” Ingraham wondered.
The so-called “River Landing” proposal put forward by Brown envisions a three-story opera house with a rooftop restaurant and bar, another two-story building with a farmers market and food court on the ground level and a museum of some sort on the second floor. Underground parking could also be a potential, and the building would be situated around a public plaza next to the new foot bridge.
“The use could change over time as the market demands,” Brown wrote in the proposal. The museum space could be focused on any number of attractions, he said.
The plaza could have a water feature, shaded seating areas and a landmark tower feature, he also explains in the proposal.
Plans were also submitted by a team of designers working with the Hot Springs Pool, calling for short- and long-term use of the space that closely follows the Sixth Street Master Plan that was developed in late 2016.
The short-term plan calls for a multi-functional plaza area, some initial commercial development and additional site acquisition to maximize future development.
A third plan was submitted by Riviera Supper Club owner Jonathan Gorst, calling for outdoor seating, concessions, restroom facilities and an outdoor amphitheater area.
Gorst also submitted the lone proposal for a second downtown lot that is now owned by the DDA, and for which the city is seeking redevelopment ideas. It is located in the 700 block of Grand along the alley where a main walkway will pass beneath the south end of the new bridge.
Both of Gorst’s proposals were viewed by council members as more seasonal options for use of the two spaces, where they were looking for more year-round uses.
“These are not easy lots for a lot of different reasons,” City Manager Debra Figueroa said, noting that might have limited the number of proposals that were received by the late February deadline.
City Council was inclined to continue talking with Brown about his vision for the north landing site, and to put the alley lot out again for followup proposals.
For this summer, the DDA is considering allowing a food cart or some other use on the alley site as a way to activate the area and keep it from becoming a de facto “smoker lot,” as Councilor Steve Davis described its current state.
An overriding concern with any future development of the north landing site is the city’s current parking code, which would require some degree of parking on site. Brown’s plan envisions some underground parking, but council members said they would prefer to wait until the city’s new development code rewrite is completed before accepting a formal development proposal.
As part of the code rewrite, the city is looking at relaxing on-site parking requirements in favor of building more public parking in areas such as the Sixth Street corridor.
“Until we figure out parking, we’re going to get development that’s compromised by parking requirements,” Council Todd Leahy said. “We need to put cars somewhere else and keep people in mind.”
On a related note Thursday, council also gave a collective nod to plans for some interim Sixth Street improvements this summer to help make the area more attractive following the bridge construction.
The DDA has been meeting with business and property owners in the area and has come up with a plan to string festival lights in a zig-zag pattern across the two-block section of Sixth from Pine to Laurel streets. A painted streetscape and on-street parking spaces that could serve as a template for future redevelopment of the area is also in the works.