Silverthorne planners OK downtown apartment complex; council comes next
December 7, 2017
A proposed seven-unit, downtown apartment complex recommended for approval at Tuesday's meeting of the Silverthorne Planning Commission has drawn some locals' attention, including some for and against the project.
The complex would go up at 300 Blue River Pkwy., private land that's near a town park and currently houses Uncle John's Farm Stand, the Higgles Ice Cream Food Truck, parking spaces and a picnic area, according to the developer's application.
The property is prime, open real estate along the scenic Blue River in the downtown core, and the town's bike path cuts through the parcel. To the north sits the Silverthorne Town Center, with the river on the east, a vacant lot to the south and the Old Dillon Inn across the street to the west, states the application.
The developer, Tom Ethington of Pinnacle Real Estate Advisors, said he's "excited" to be working on a project that could help fill out the downtown core, in which they can "deliver a good product within the town's vision."
The town has identified the area as part of its downtown core, and the goal is to allow the most density in the downtown core with progressively lower densities radiating outward.
The land on which the apartments would go and the surrounding area is a popular summertime gathering place in Silverthorne, with many nearby businesses, the walking path along the river and easy access to other town assets, like the performing arts or recreation centers.
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Ethington said that, with any luck, they could start construction as early as May.
The proposed apartments, however, would effectively put out the current tenants, one of whom recently posted a link to the developer's proposal with an open-ended question asking people to weigh in.
In response, some welcomed the news of additional housing options in an already tight real estate market marred by rising prices and record-low inventory.
"Urban infill is a good thing," wrote one man on the popular Facebook forum One Man's Junk Summit County. "It prevents sprawl along with so many other issues we face. This plan utilizes existing highway entrances, places parking behind the structure, and gives the tenants walking access to local businesses in the area."
The design "looks modern and progressive," he added. "But most importantly, we need housing in this county!"
Others saw the need for additional housing too, but they weren't quite so keen on the design.
"Can't anyone design something that fits in better in a mountain town?" asked another commenter. "This looks like every new apartment/condo development being built in Denver right now."
At the same time, other people expressed concerns about the price of the downtown apartments and assumed the cost would be too high for many locals.
According to Ethington, they will be upscale apartments, but he could not provide price points so early in the project.
Also, many of the people who weighed in online wanted to know if the units would be short-term rentals or long term.
"Style is a bit much, but a couple more residences seems good to me," wrote another supporter. "Hopefully, they are built for local residents."
According to Ethington, those people will be happy to know the apartments will be rented out under long-term leases.
The requested height for the apartment complex also sparked ire for some residents, as plans call for the complex to extend up to the maximum allowable height for the downtown area — 45 feet on a pitched roof — and there are other concerns about how the apartments could affect access and views of the Blue River.
It should be noted that most of the town's requirements are easily met or exceeded by the project, according to the developer's application. However, some accommodations are being made under stipulations written into town code for reduced parking spaces due to the proposed apartments' proximity to nearby bus routes and snow removal, which is to be hauled off-site.
Per town law, the applicant held a public forum Tuesday to give property owners within 200 feet of the proposed apartments a chance to review the site plans and building design, in addition to the planning commission's hearing that same day.
The issue is expected come up again Dec. 13 at the next Silverthorne Town Council meeting, where Ethington said he hopes the project does well, "and we'll go from there."