Parking rules could put the brakes on restaurant plans
A parking dispute is proving to be the fly in the soup of a plan that could replace a downtown auto dealership with restaurants.Glenwood Springs City Council is scheduled to decide next week on an appeal of a Planning and Zoning Commission decision that a developer says threatens plans to open restaurants at the former Elk Mountain Motors location on Sixth Street.The commission has denied a request for a variance from the city’s parking requirements for indoor/outdoor restaurants. Steve Lundin asked for the relaxed parking restrictions for the building across from the Hotel Colorado.”You can’t knock down a building and make more parking lots,” he said.The city’s planning staff agrees with Lundin, and had recommended granting the variance.The planning commission voted 4-2 in November against requiring less parking after hearing from nearby residents about the scarcity of parking in the area.”We have had a lot of problems,” said Lawrence Holloway, who lives a block away, on Fifth Street.He said that when the site was a car dealership, employees and customers often would park on his street.Lundin has obtained a minor development approval and other variances from the planning commission. The parking question is the only sticking point.The site’s zoning allows for restaurants, as well as other uses such as retail and offices. However, the city requires the most parking in the case of a restaurant.The city says 64 parking spaces are needed for restaurants at the property. Lundin is proposing 44 on the property, and three more adjacent to it. The city requires one parking space for every 100 square feet of indoor dining space, and one for every 200 square feet of outdoor dining space.The proposal includes about 5,100 square feet of indoor dining areas, and 2,300 feet outdoors. The building is about 9,200 feet in size.Patti Haefeli, a city planner, said the planning staff supported Lundin’s proposal out of recognition that the property owners are trying to work with an existing building rather than leveling it and starting from scratch.”They have constraints because it’s not a clean slate,” she said.Lundin said the city is requiring 12 parking spaces for a patio area that would be used primarily in the summer.”We’re trying to maintain that the pedestrians in that area are already parked in one of the hotels,” he said.Greg Wine, Lundin’s architect on the project, said there are 684 hotel and motel beds within a quarter mile of the site.But the area also gets a lot of traffic. Holloway said that in the winter it’s sometimes hard for a delivery truck to make coal deliveries for his furnace due to cars parked outside his house. Some motorists ignore no-parking signs on part of Fifth Street, and police sometimes ticket and even tow vehicles, Holloway said. The Hotel Colorado has some parking, but cars spill over into residential areas when it hosts big functions, he said.City planning commissioner Bruce Barth indicated he sympathizes with residents of that area.”I think the neighborhood is sort of overtaxed with parking as it stands,” he said.That’s not the fault of Lundin, but it reflects the existing situation in north Glenwood Springs, he said. However, he didn’t want to make the problem worse by approving the variance.”I thought it was a great project. I would have loved to see it go through,” he said.He said he doesn’t think residents have an inherent right to be able to park outside their homes, but they at least should be able to find a nearby space.Barth noted that the parking variance Lundin is seeking is for a worst-case scenario in which the entire building is used for restaurants. If something like retail used some of the space, there is adequate parking now for restaurants there as well, he said.But Lundin said most of the people who have contacted him are interested in opening restaurants at the site because of its pedestrian nature and the number of tourists who are in the area.The city’s downtown design standards support changing the site’s use from auto-related to tourist-related, Wine said.Lincicome Partners owns the property; Lincicome Motors operated out of the location from 1946-72. Lundin’s father-in-law, Landon Lincicome, developed the dealership.Other dealerships later occupied the site. Elk Mountain Motors was the last one there, before moving to West Glenwood. It closed its used car operation on Sixth Street over the summer.Lundin said that if his project goes forward, his prospective tenants hope to open their restaurants by Memorial Day, in time for the summer tourism season.He said he can’t reveal what eateries are looking at the site, but described them as theme-oriented.”They’re going to be lively restaurants,” he said.Contact Dennis Webb: 945-8515, ext. firstname.lastname@example.org
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