Planned Breckenridge parking garage likened to ‘turd in punch bowl’ before getting planning commission OK
Breckenridge’s proposed parking garage
Here are some of the details surrounding the town’s proposed parking garage in downtown Breckenridge at the Tiger Dredge parking lot, gleaned from Tuesday night’s meeting of the Breckenridge Planning Commission.
• Looking to increase parking in the downtown area, Breckenridge hired a design team lead by Walker Parking Consultants last year to spearhead the project.
• After weighing four town-owned locations, council decided the parking garage would be best on pieces of the existing Tiger Dredge Parking Lot and F Lot, and by using the difference in grade between the two parking lots, the height of the parking garage will be kept down.
• The parking garage will come with a new transit center on South Park Avenue and a lobby and restrooms on West Adams Avenue.
• In total, there would be 652 parking spaces with 157 at a redesigned F Lot, 89 more on a redesigned Tiger Dredge and the new parking garage housing the other 406 spaces.
• The garage would be three levels — an upper, lower and main — encompassing 155,00 total square feet. The upper level would be the smallest of the three at 38,775 square feet.
• The project is expected to come with more than 23,700 square feet of heated sidewalks and drives.
• The town aims to break ground this May. Construction is expected to take about 15 months. The town will lose F Lot and half of Tiger Dredge for one full winter. Public transportation, along with lots north and south of town, should help alleviate the crunch caused by construction.
• Town staff are working with the Breckenridge Creative Arts board to have a large-scale public art piece on the parking structure facing W. Adams Ave and the Riverwalk Center.
• The bronze Tenth Mountain Division sculpture along the walking path will be move, possibly off-site to somewhere else in Breckenridge.
• Landscaping is the least of concerns right now with greenery on all four sides. The majority will be along South Park Avenue and the Blue River, but there’s more with the redesigned Tiger Dredge and F Lots.
• Colorado Department of Transportation must approve the project, including a final traffic study by a registered Colorado Professional Engineer.
Source: Compiled by Eli Pace from comments at Tuesday’s Breckenridge Planning Commission meeting and the corresponding agenda packet
Parking structure point analysis (plus-eight composite)
Below is Breckenridge town staff’s positive and negative point analysis for the town’s proposed parking garage at Tiger Dredge and F Lot. The town’s planning commission approved the analysis Tuesday and then recommended Breckenridge Town Council also approve the project.
-6 — Most of the exterior materials being non-natural on each elevation
-10 — Over height with the enclosed structures
-1 — Long, unbroken ridgeline exceeding 50 feet in length
-2 — Unbroken retaining wall exceeding 4 feet in height
+4 — Providing public parking in structure
+8 — Infrastructure Capital Improvements Plan
+6 — Meeting a town council goal
+4 — Landscaping
+2 — Shared dumpster with Riverwalk Center
+3 — Additional pedestrian/bike path near the river and covered public bike storage
Source: Breckenridge Planning Commission
Of the four people who spoke against it Tuesday, a man from Breckenridge had the strongest language for the town’s efforts to build a new parking garage downtown, delivered just moments before planning commissioners recommended town council green-light the project.
“I’m going to be brusque, I’m going to be rude, I’m going to be inappropriate,” Lee Edwards told commissioners after calling the proposed parking garage “a turd in a punch bowl.”
The new parking garage would be built partially on the existing Tiger Dredge parking lot on Adams Avenue and on the adjacent F Lot parking along S. Park Avenue. The new structure is expected to house over 400 cars, thus helping address the persistent parking problem in Breckenridge.
Edwards was third in the lineup of public commenters Tuesday. None liked the idea, and each listed some reasons why. Many overlapped, but most took issue with the appearance and size, traffic patterns on S. Park Avenue and the location of the proposed parking garage.
“There are some ugly buildings in this town,” one woman said. “None of them will have to worry about being the ugliest.”
She said that if the town really wants to build a parking garage, council should consider another site, perhaps the Stephen C. West Ice Arena. Other alternatives floated Tuesday were Breckenridge Ski Resort’s gondola lots, but the town does not own those properties.
In July, Breckenridge Town Council weighed four different town-owned properties, including the ice rink, and landed on Tiger Dredge as the best immediate option. Efforts to build more parking at the ice rink remain on the table, but there’s little taste among town officials to pursue two massive parking projects side-by-side.
Before public comments at Tuesday’s meeting, town staff walked the planning commission through their assessment of the proposed project, based on a positive and negative point analysis, while looking for the commissioners to confirm staff’s scores.
The project received a passing grade, plus-eight points, though one of the commissioners took issue with the process in which a project can receive plus-six points for meeting a town council goal and plus-eight points for inclusion in the town’s capital improvements plan.
Commissioner Gretchen Dudney described the point-analysis as “a catch-22,” and said that, without the 14 positive points afforded from those two categories, the plan wouldn’t pass. It’s basically “council passing a project it wants to pass,” she said. “But nevertheless, that is the law so they do get those points, and the project passes, in my point of view.”
Per the analysis, the proposed parking garage was docked 10 points for going over the recommended height — 49 feet at its tallest point on an elevator shaft, but significantly lower with the actual parking structure — and another point for having a long, unbroken ridgeline in excess of 50 feet in length. Two more points came off for an unbroken retaining wall over 4 feet tall, and six points were subtracted for “non-natural” exterior materials, mainly preformed concrete.
On the plus side, the project also got boosts for providing public parking, additional landscaping, bike storage and pedestrian paths, and sharing a trash bin with the Riverwalk Center.
Realizing a parking garage is, in fact, going to have to house hundreds of cars, staff also acknowledged as much in the analysis, writing “that this is a large utilitarian structure intended for the sole purpose of providing … a much needed place to park.”
Defending their decision to recommend project approval, commissioners said they thought the analysis was fair. Considering it’s a parking garage, some even defended the designs.
“I think it’s good-looking for a parking structure myself,” said Dudney, explaining the commissioners didn’t pick the site and referring questions about its proposed location to town council.
“Parking structures are just not terrific looking projects,” she continued. “To make them efficient and house the most number of cars, they have to be straight lines so I support the project as designed, and I support the point analysis staff has come up with.”
Other commissioners fell along the same lines, and they unanimously recommended town council approve the garage. When they did, a woman seated in the gallery didn’t keep quiet. “So disappointing,” she said loud enough to be heard.
The next meeting of the Breckenridge Town Council is Tuesday.
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