Hotels, housing float into confluence conversation
The 12.2 acres of land located at the confluence of the Roaring Fork and Colorado rivers has attracted local and national developers.
In February, the city of Glenwood Springs put out a request for qualifications (RFQ) for a confluence master developer that garnered seven responses.
Additional vetting from the city’s Community Development, Engineering and Parks and Recreation Departments as well as the Downtown Development Authority (DDA) narrowed the search to three prospective teams— The Confluence Development Group, Development Partners and Trailbreak Partners.
Earlier this week, all three gave presentations to, and were interviewed by Glenwood Springs City Council.
“To have the opportunity to be involved in a project which will create such a dramatic change to an area occupied by an old wastewater sewer plant site and an old abandoned railroad wye, right at the confluence of our two rivers is the number one reason I chose to serve on council for an additional four years,” Councilman Steve Davis said.
“I hope every citizen will also take the opportunity to engage in this transformation, which will dramatically impact Glenwood for generations to come,” he said.
Comprised of a partnership between ABA Hospitality out of Snowmass Village and Oak City Development from Raleigh, North Carolina, the Confluence Development Group in its submittal stated that its, “relationship with the Hyatt Corporation has resulted in receiving preliminary interest for the development of a hotel and conference center on the confluence area site.”
The group has also proposed a performing arts center, senior housing and dedicated restaurant, retail and mixed-use residential space.
The Confluence Development Group stated that it was “presently negotiating the purchase” of the Farnum Holt Funeral Home property near the confluence. However, funeral home owner Trey Holt said Wednesday that he was not currently involved in any negotiation with any prospective buyers.
As developers eye the confluence area, recently elected Councilman Tony Hershey expressed his concerns that the city should focus less on any new development and more on fixing existing infrastructure.
“We have not addressed the street issue … it is ridiculous,” Hershey said. “We do not have the resources or the time to be doing all of these other projects, and frankly I think it is empire building on behalf of the city — the bigger we are the better — and I am not doing it anymore.”
Featuring Chaffin Light Management and Independence Ventures, both out of Basalt, as well as Design Workshop from Aspen and Roaring Fork Engineering based in Carbondale, the Development Partners team zeroed in on the development of the Vogelaar Park site located at 915 School St., just above the confluence.
The city does not yet own what is to become its portion of the Vogelaar Park land. Assistant City Manager Jennifer Ooton said, “The land swap between the city and the school district is still pending.”
A few years ago, the city agreed to swap land south of the newly remodeled Glenwood Springs Elementary School for a share of the Vogelaar Park site north of the school.
In its proposal, Development Partners stated, “We propose to purchase and develop the Vogelaar property with multi-income and multi-generational residential and, if appropriate, some civic uses.”
Additionally, the Development Partners team proposed a river park connection to Seventh Street businesses, as well as mixed-use areas along Eighth Street near City Hall.
The preliminary plan also calls for a transit hub by way of a partnership between RFTA and the city.
“We might not do anything — the option might be that we push pause and wait to see where this community is,” Mayor Jonathan Godes said, suggesting any decisions concerning the confluence’s redevelopment were still a ways out.
“The point of engaging a master developer is so that they can do these public outreach meetings and they can help us identify where the community is,” Godes said.
The third team being interviewed — Trailbreak Partners — includes the Denver-based firm by the same name, as well as Van Meter Williams Pollack out of Denver and San Francisco, and NV5, which has over 100 offices nationwide and abroad. NV5 was the contract project manager for the Roaring Fork School District’s GSES renovation and addition that was completed in 2017.
Trailbreak Partners presented two alternative concepts, one of which proposed up to 25,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space, 25,000 square feet of commercial office space in mixed-use buildings and 410 residential units “in the form of townhome, apartment and condominiums.”
The concept would also enable a central transit station at Seventh Street and what would become Defiance Avenue west of City Hall.
“Council sat through five hours of interviews with three separate development teams, and I must say I was very impressed with the respondents,” Councilor Davis said. “There was immense talent with broad national experience being interviewed.
“It was quite impressive, and there was no clear front runner in the process.”
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After the planning and zoning commission unanimously denied ANB Bank’s proposal to construct a new facility in the city’s 900 block, the Glenwood Springs City Council will hear the banks appeal case Thursday at its regularly scheduled meeting.