New Marketplace plan leaps out of the (big) box in Carbondale |

New Marketplace plan leaps out of the (big) box in Carbondale

Jeremy Heiman
Carbondale Correspondent
Glenwood Springs, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE, Colorado ” Rich Schierburg of Peregrine Group Development has submitted a new plan for the central seven acres of the Crystal River Marketplace property on Highway 133, in accordance with the last bit of direction given by the Carbondale Board of Trustees more than a year ago.

That middle section of the property, which in earlier conceptual plans put forward by Schierburg in spring of 2007 was to be the site of a 100,000-square-foot Home Depot store and its surrounding parking lots, is now designated a “flex zone” ” an area of mixed use, containing both commercial and residential spaces.

The flex zone option was the recommendation of the town’s citizen-led Economic Roadmap Group, which was formed after a previous big-box development plan for the property was rejected by voters in a July 2003 referendum election.

However, debate about a possible big box being part of the development plan resurfaced early last year when Schierburg, with the town’s blessing, invited representatives of Home Depot to give a presentation on their plans for what they promised would be a green-built Home Depot store, designed to be more fitting with Carbondale’s small-town character.

After several more rounds of debate, and a suggestion by at least one town council member to put the issue of a big box anchor at the Marketplace back to a town vote, Schierburg was directed by a majority of the town board to prepare a development application including the flex zone.

Still, specific details of the new development plan are being kept quiet until the application is deemed complete by the town’s planning department.

Schierburg was also tight-lipped about his plan, which was submitted “a couple of weeks ago,” but as of Tuesday was not yet complete. He did say that, using one method of measuring, more than 50 percent of the flex zone area is allocated to commercial space, and the retail stores will be relatively small.

The commercial spaces will be primarily retail, Schierburg said. In addition to residential and retail, the possibility remains that there could be a hotel in the flex zone area, he said.

“There are no big uses in there,” Schierburg said.

Further, Schierburg said, the design of the buildings will reflect the nature of the town.

“The design will be indigenous to the area,” he said. “They’ll have a mountain look rather than an urban look.”

The plan for the remainder of the 24-acre property remains unchanged from what was being discussed last year. The conceptual plans show a 60,000-square-foot grocery store on the north end, about 38,000 square feet of auxiliary commercial space bordering Highway 133 and housing or mixed-use development on the south end, along West Main Street.

After much debate among Carbondale’s residents and officials, a July 2003 referendum overturned the town council’s previous approval of the 250,000-square-foot shopping center project with a big-box store on the property. But the need for greater sales tax revenue to pay for town services and amenities brought the issues back to the forefront.

Schierburg took over as developer in 2006. He asked the town to give him direction on how to proceed.

At a May 16, 2007, meeting with the developer, Carbondale’s town council voted 4-3 in a straw poll in favor of having Schierburg pursue the flex zone development option, over an alternative option that would include a Home Depot store.

Schierburg referred to the flex zone plan as the “character plan” because it was born out of the concern that the development should be consistent Carbondale’s character. He referred to the Home Depot plan as the “revenue option,” because it had been projected to bring perhaps $700,000 more than a mixed-use plan into the town’s coffers annually.

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