Historic buildings stand in way of hotel-condo development in Dillon
May 7, 2015
Dillon Town Council voted on Tuesday to extend an option agreement to two local business owners, combining five properties for future development. Daniel Eilts, owner of Lake Dillon Conoco, and Ivano Ottoborgo, owner of Adriano's Bistro, paid the town $5,000 for the option to purchase the property at $549,000 within a year.
"This is just a first step. This puts it on the market," said town manger Tom Breslin. "This really just lets them show to prospective purchasers that the land can be assembled."
The town would offer two lots at the corner of State Highway 6 and Lake Dillon Drive for $549,000, which would be combined with three lots owned by Adriano's Bistro and Lake Dillon Conoco. Eilts and Ottoborgo teamed up to create Gateway Development LLC last September. Both men had the same idea of developing a luxury hotel and condo complex at the entrance to the town, but they needed the land before they could start the project.
With a settlement that ended in April, Gateway Development purchased a lot housing a radio tower owned by Mauna Towers that will be included in the parcel, paying $1,400 for a tower permit in addition to the land. The tower will remain in Dillon, but both owners now have the option to move it from the parcel to make room for future development.
"We're just a block off Highway 6, and it's the hardest thing to get people to turn into Dillon," Ottoborgo said. "Dillon is the last little town. It doesn't really have a main street with people walking up and down it. Then there's the housing shortage in Summit County. It all came together."
The partnership began in 2007, when Dillon's former economic development director, Susan Fairweather, suggested the neighbors create a limited licensing company to be able to share ownership of the combined parcel. The two started drawing up plans for the 278,000-square-foot lot, which would contain a 130-room hotel with 68 apartment units, as well as a 5,000-square-foot restaurant and a retail space.
"That would certainly tidy up the corner there," Breslin said. "It's just a lot of old buildings and a gas station."
Dillon town planner Ned West said the owners were looking to put out a request for proposal in order to have some say in what property can be developed in the sprawling lot. Eilts hopes to market the property to developers in two to three weeks.
Should a developer choose to build on the entire property, both Adriano's and Conoco would be razed to make room for the project, and tenant Bonnie Q BBQ would be forced to move.
"I know they've been talking for years about putting a development there," said Doug Pierce, owner of Bonnie Q BBQ and a tenant of the building. "I just hope I get to keep barbecuing here."
The Lake Dillon Theatre, which is currently located on the land sold by the town, will also be scrapped as the theater plans to move to Silverthorne next year.
"That's what's been talked about, is to scrape off that land and start with a new concept," West said.
Two old buildings that date back to the 1800s would be lost with new development. While they lack a historical designation, both structures were moved from their original location in the bed of the current Dillon Reservoir, before the town was pushed onto the ridge.
"Still, emotionally, they are a part of Dillon's history," said Sandra Mather of the Summit County Historical Society. "You don't want to let that part of history go and be bulldozed."
Dillon's old Town Hall, which houses the Lake Dillon Theatre, was built in "Old Dillon" by the railroad in 1899. The Rebekah Lodge building, which is currently home to Bonnie Q BBQ dates back to 1882, when it was originally the Graff Opera House in Frisco. It was moved to Dillon by horse in 1887, later housing the Rebekahs, one of the first fraternal orders open to women.
"We'll just have to see if we can develop some sort of partnership," Mather said. "It's part of our mission to preserve and interpret history, not only for Dillon's residents, but for the tourists that come in."
The historical society approached Dillon Town Council earlier this month to see if the Rebekah Lodge could be preserved. Breslin said the property no longer belongs to the town, but the historical society could look into working with the owners to move the building.
"Once you've modified the building externally, it is no longer a historic building," Ottoborgo said. "I understand their concerns about it being a historic building, but this is a conversation to be had prior, before additions were put on it."
The ordinance for the option agreement will be up for a second reading on Tuesday, May 19 at 7 p.m. at Dillon's Town Hall.