P&Z recommends in favor of South Blake apartments | PostIndependent.com

P&Z recommends in favor of South Blake apartments

An architectural rendering of one of the proposed 10 apartment buildings on South Blake Avenue near Wal-Mart.

A plan to build 79 apartment units on a little more than 6 acres fronting South Blake Avenue near the Wal-Mart in Glenwood Springs has won a favorable nod from the city’s planning and zoning commission.

P&Z voted 5-2 Tuesday night to recommend approval of the project. The decision came after three public hearings, multiple continuances and several modifications to the plan since the proposal was first submitted last spring.

The recommendation now goes to City Council for consideration on Jan. 18. It includes some new site design conditions regarding extra sidewalk connections and landscaping to help prevent headlights from shining into the neighboring Oakhurst Townhomes.

The applicant, Glenwood Multifamily LLC, represented by RAL Architects, is also being asked to pay the cost to convert part of nearby Blake Avenue to one-way traffic in an effort to limit pass-through traffic into the residential neighborhood along Blake to the north.

As planned, most of Blake north of 26th Street to 23rd Street would become one-way southbound. A raised, landscaped median would block northbound traffic at 26th.

P&Z is recommending starting the one-way section at 24th Street, and keeping the one-block section between 23rd and 24th in a two-way configuration, according to city planner Hannah Klausman.

The recent experience during the Grand Avenue bridge detour, when motorists began cutting around the designated detour route onto Blake, was a key concern for planning commissioners and neighbors in the area, she said.

Another condition for the apartment project calls for the developer to pay for the new one-way section of Blake to be paved.

Still to be decided by council, though, is the question of whether to open the so-called “Blake gate” that now blocks access between 27th and 29th streets at the north end of the Roaring Fork Marketplace (Wal-Mart) commercial center.

The development plan itself calls for 77 two-bedroom apartments and two one-bedroom units spread across 10 separate buildings on part of the larger Oakhurst subdivision.

The heavily sloped site is commonly known as the Bell Rippy property. It is located directly north of Wal-Mart and to the east of the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority’s 27th Street Station transit center.

City staff and outside traffic engineers have suggested opening the gate to help spread out traffic flow in the area, especially with the estimated 54 additional vehicles per hour that the project would generate.

The gate was put in place in conjunction with the Roaring Fork Marketplace development in the 1980s. It was meant to prevent through traffic along the narrow section of Blake and to direct traffic instead to 29th Street and the main Marketplace entrance by McDonald’s on Colorado 82.

The prospect of opening the gate has been a sore spot for area residents who would rather not see the gate opened, fearing it will encourage people to access the Marketplace via Blake.

P&Z Chairman Marco Dehm wanted the commission to recommend in favor of opening the gate. However, the rest of the advisory panel wanted to leave that discussion for council to take up.

The half-dozen residents who spoke at the Tuesday hearing all opposed the project, mostly over traffic and concerns that the project site plan didn’t allow for enough open space for children to play.

Commissioners Dehm, Tim Malloy, Kathryn Grosscup, Ingrid Wussow and George Shaver approved the favorable recommendation. Commissioners Sumner Schachter and Michael Blair were opposed.