Planning commission gets first look at proposed Breckenridge Grand Vacations development
Breckenridge Grand Vacations’ proposed development on the North Gondola and Gold Rush lots was presented to the Breckenridge Planning Commission at a preliminary hearing Tuesday, and though a few concerns were raised, commissioners had overall positive comments for the project.
Despite being in the early stages of the town planning process, the proposed development has been a hot topic in Breckenridge, inspiring letters to the editor and being referenced in Breckenridge Town Council meetings. But before the project can move forward, it first has to get a thumbs up from the planning commission. Then Town Council can agree with the planning commission’s decision or have its own hearing if there are concerns.
Per previous agreements, 143 single-family equivalent units can be built on the site. The code also requires the developer to provide a certain amount of parking and workforce housing units along with the development. How that 143 single-family equivalent figure translates into units depends on the type of units built, Breckenridge Community Development Director Mark Truckey previously explained. If the developer wanted to build condominiums, for example, one single-family equivalent would equal 1,200 square feet of condo space.
The proposal presented to the planning commission is a master plan for the three lots featuring condominium, townhome, commercial, hotel and workforce housing uses. The plan addresses roadway and pedestrian improvements, including a roundabout at the intersection of Park Avenue and French Street and a parking structure on the North Gold Rush Lot. A gondola is proposed to accompany the parking structure to transport people from the parking garage to the North Gondola Lot.
Town planner Chris Kulick said the site is one of the largest undeveloped tracts in the center of town. He explained that the proposal came in the form of a master plan so that the project could be evaluated in one go rather than separate phases of evaluation of the three parcels.
Kulick said the recommended use of the North Gondola Lot is lodging or commercial uses per the land-use district. The Breckenridge Grand Vacations project proposes townhomes and three mixed-use buildings on the lot. The recommended use of the South Gold Rush Lot is residential, and townhomes are proposed. The recommended use of the North Gold Rush Lot — which is where the 1,150-space parking structure, gondola and workforce housing units are proposed — is also residential use.
During the public comment period, residents along the adjacent Woods Drive shared concerns about traffic and pedestrian flow. Resident Del Nordstrom was unconvinced that people would opt to use the gondola to enter or exit the parking structure and believed they would instead walk, potentially attempting to cut through the neighborhood. Two other Woods Drive residents brought up traffic concerns, stating that traffic is already an issue in the area, that the parking structure would add to that and that the roundabout would be dysfunctional at peak times.
Graham Frank, vice president of development for Breckenridge Grand Vacations, responded to public comments by saying that the gondola idea was put into the plan to replace the original idea of a bridge over Park Avenue, which neighbors had issues with. As the proposal moves through the process, he said the company will look into options like signage and fencing to try to prevent people from entering private property.
Planning commissioners provided feedback on the proposal, which will be brought back to the commission for a second review after Breckenridge Grand Vacations addresses the concerns of the commission and town staff.
Planning commissioner Steve Gerard said he feels the development is overall “heading down the right path,” but he raised concerns about the parking structure.
“This is about the worst thing you can do, to change from a residential use to a big-box, 1,100 car parking garage,” Gerard said.
Commissioner Mike Giller strongly encouraged Breckenridge Grand Vacations to distill the design of the buildings, which include several architectural styles, saying the buildings and their elements need to look more unified. Commissioner Ron Schuman asked the company to continue to work with Woods Drive residents.
Commissioner Jay Beckerman stressed the importance of careful planning of the project.
“This to me is truly … the gateway into our town. No matter which way you go, you’re going to see it,” Beckerman said. “I really think that this could be a great asset to this town if it’s done well.”
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