Sathers proposing commercial-residential mix for 9.4-acre parcel
FRISCO – Local developer Don Sather is attempting to strike a balance – environmentally and politically.His development proposal for Frisco’s 9.4-acre parcel goes only part of the way toward meeting the town council’s prescription of “predominantly retail” use for the site, and it also echoes themes raised by vocal big-box opponents who have advocated for parks, meeting space and affordable housing.Sather and his wife Betsy, as part of BigHorn Center Partners, are one of a small handful of applicants competing for the right to build on the town-owned land behind Safeway.His competitors include retail giants Home Depot and Wal-Mart.Given the chance, Sather would transform the site into a collection of smaller-scale structures, including an Ace Solutions hardware and home-goods store, two or three additional retail pads, a small meeting/community center, a green belt, a bike path and a mix of 30-40 affordable and market-rate residences.
The Ace store would be about 20,000 square feet, roughly a quarter the size of the proposed big-box stores. Retail uses would comprise about 40 percent of the developable land.Sather presented his ideas at a public focus group Thursday night at the Best Western Lake Dillon Lodge in Frisco, where about 35 citizens gathered to weigh in.”We’ve been talking to the town since 1996 about a hardware store or home improvement center at this site,” Sather said. “We get many, many comments at the store in Silverthorne of ‘Gee, it sure would be nice to have a hardware store in Frisco.'”Sather owns Silverthorne’s BigHorn Ace Hardware store, which has gained international recognition for its environmentally friendly and energy-efficient design. He once operated the BigHorn lumber yard in Frisco, at the foot of Main Street by the reservoir.BigHorn Center Partners would aim even higher on the sustainability front with the ACE Solutions project. Sather outlined plans to meet Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Platinum Rating – the highest possible from the U.S. Green Building Council.
Such a building would put Frisco on the map environmentally in a way that could have a considerable, positive impact on the town’s image, Sather said.Should the project get the green light, Sather would tailor the Silverthorne store to serve contractors, since the Ace Solutions store would cater to retail consumers.Many in the audience applauded Sather’s environmental sensitivity, but a few still worried about suburban homogeneity, visual impact, damage to wetlands and increased traffic.”You’re proposing less retail, which will mean less sales tax revenue, but it’s still retail that’s going to make it look like any place else,” said Frisco resident Mike McCraken. “I think you’re trying to play both sides of the aisle.”Sather’s plan includes space for a future Interstate 70 mass-transit stop.
If selected by the council, BigHorn Center Partners would assume responsibility for developing the Ace Solutions store.The group would then work cooperatively in subsequent phases with other retail and residential developers who would agree to the same architectural themes and environmental standards for their portions of the project. Sather suggested the town’s lodging tax could fund the construction of the conference facility.Sather, along with the other applicants, will submit final proposals to the town by July 1. The public will have the opportunity to review the proposals shortly thereafter, and the council hopes to make its pick by mid-July.Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998 ext. 203 or email@example.com.
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