West Glenwood apartment plan faces scrutiny

A map pinpoints the proposed location for the 116-unit Oasis Creek Apartments along Highway 6 & 24 in West Glenwood.
John Stroud | Post Independent

A proposed 116-unit apartment complex along Highway 6 & 24 in West Glenwood could serve as one solution to the shortage of rental housing for middle-income workers in the area.

But the project will have to clear some pretty big hurdles with the city of Glenwood Springs first, including approval for a requested building height variance some 25 feet greater than the city’s code allows.

Developers of the proposed Oasis Creek Apartments, to be situated on 3.7 acres where the former Terra Vista Motel and Bayou restaurant building once stood, are also asking for variances related to parking, storage and other design requirements.

The city Planning and Zoning Commission took up the proposal in January, but continued the matter until this month to give the developer time to address some of the concerns. Those mostly revolve around parking, storage and architectural remedies to lessen the visual impact of the taller buildings.

P&Z is scheduled to take up the proposal again at 6 p.m. Tuesday at City Hall.

The development group, Richmark Holdings, is a family-owned group made up of Tyler Richardson, Arlo Richardson, Colin Richardson and Mike Thomas. They also own the Antlers Hotel, Best Western in Glenwood Springs. Ron Liston of the Land Design Partnership in Glenwood is the land planner for the project, and OZ Architecture of Denver is designing the buildings.

The plan calls for 116 apartments to be spread between two four-story buildings that would be connected by an elevated and enclosed walkway. Fifty-six of the apartments (48 percent) would be one bedroom, and the remaining 60 would have two bedrooms.

Under the revised plan, developers are asking for a reduction in the parking requirement from 256 parking spaces to 185 spaces, arguing other rental projects approved in recent years received a similar variance.

However, city planning staff is sticking by its recommended denial of the project, mostly due to the “substantial deviations” from the parking and building height standards.

Most notably, the proposal calls for buildings on the sloped site to be as high as 60.85 feet, almost 26 feet over the maximum allowed height of 35 feet in the city’s C/1 Limited Commercial zone district.

“Staff fully understands that residential dwellings are needed in the community to address the ongoing shortage of available housing,” city planner Jill Peterson wrote in her January staff report.

“A departure from zoning standards must always be carefully considered in the context of the precedent that may be set for similar requests in the future, the impacts on neighboring properties, and the equity of bestowing development rights exclusively to one property but not to another,” Peterson reiterated in her analysis of the revised plan.

“Inadequate parking at this location has the potential for overflow parking to encroach on adjacent streets or properties,” she also wrote, noting that there is no on-street parking on either Donegan or Highway 6 & 24.

Project planner Liston indicated at the Jan. 26 meeting that the site is difficult because of its steep slope between Donegan Road on the upper end and Highway 6 & 24 below. The site conditions are cause for the variances being requested, especially the building heights that fit the natural grade of the development site, he said.

From the Donegan Road side, only one story will be visible, and when looking at the site from the south the taller buildings would be designed to blend into the hillside, Liston explained.

P&Z at its last meeting opted to continue the discussion and to give the developer time to explain how some of the potential impacts from the requested variances are to be addressed. If recommended for approval by P&Z, the proposal would go before City Council for a final decision.

Mayor Mike Gamba has indicated he will need to dismiss himself from that discussion, since his engineering firm, Gamba & Associates, is working on the project.

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