Summit Daily letters: Frisco Town Council rushes to build superblock on Main Street
December 5, 2016
Frisco Town Council rushes to build superblock on Main Street
We believe you should be made aware of the current negotiations between Frisco Town Council and Kelly Foote regarding the future sale and development of the Staley House property at 518 Main Street in Frisco. This property consists of two city lots and an historic building. What you probably don't know is that numerous development presentations before council have been held during executive sessions. The town of Frisco is currently negotiating exclusively with Kelly Foote on a sales and development contract.
How was this decision reached?
On December 13, the final reading on the sale and development agreement will occur and will be approved without any community input unless you voice your opinion and tell the council that you want the final reading delayed until further community discussion has occurred.
What we would like our community to know is that there was an alternative development option presented to the council by adjacent property owners. Under our development plan, the Staley House would remain in its original Main Street location. The plan included the integration of this iconic historic building with new development extending east to the corner of 6th Avenue which, we believe, would encourage foot traffic between east and west Main Street. Currently, pedestrian traffic seems to dead end at 5th Avenue. We feel that the future of Main Street Frisco will benefit from pedestrian-friendly development, which will include more retail frontage on Main Street, extending to the corner of 6th, encouraging continued foot traffic to 7th Avenue. Above the retail spaces would be both affordable and market value housing units. I believe we can all agree that Frisco is in need of this.
Over the past several years, we have made multiple offers to purchase the Staley House property for the appraised price, however, the Town of Frisco could not reach the decision to sell. Kelly Foote approached the town to present his proposed hotel development and maintained that he needed to acquire the Staley property to move forward with his development. After multiple presentations, it appeared that council could not decide between us, as they formed a special committee for the sole purpose of presenting an idea in which we would split the property in question, thereby both acquiring additional property for our developments.
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They offered us Lot #3, with a purchase price attached, and confirmed that they would offer Kelly Foote Lot #4 for the same price. We accepted that offer and reiterated that we would be interested in purchasing both Lots 3 and 4 if Kelly rejected the offer. The result was that Kelly rejected the offer, and even though we accepted the offer, we were then informed that the Town of Frisco would be negotiating exclusively with Kelly for the sale of the property; there was no other offer on the table. And that is where we stand today.
Current ownership of Main Street Property between 5th and 6th Ave: Counihan property: 2 lots (Lots 1 & 2); Town property/Staley House: 2 lots (Lots 3 & 4); Foote property: 8 lots (Lots 5-12).
It is our opinion that one owner/developer controlling the future development of almost an entire block of Main Street in the commercial core of Frisco is not a good town decision. It is essentially creating a superblock on Main Street. If approved during the second reading on December 13, the property will encompass 10 lots of a 12-lot block and ultimately be developed into a 45-room hotel by an out-of-state investment group. The size of the hotel development could be compared to the Natural Grocers building in Frisco with an additional floor on top.
Finally, we feel there is a better decision to be made by current town council regarding the future of the entire block of Main Street between 5th and 6th Ave. We believe that we can build a pleasing blend of retail, residential and affordable housing units, integrating the Staley House and retaining its historic status and integrity on a total of three town lots. At the same time, Kelly Foote could develop a total of nine lots into a pleasing project, preserving the Foote's Rest building, but moving the small log cabins to a different, and perhaps more suitable, location. They could be incorporated into the Nordic Center and actively used as warming huts, or perhaps moved to Marina Park to be used in conjunction with a future ice rink. Another idea is to relocate the buildings by town hall, across from the historic park, where they could be occupied by artisans and retailers. These log buildings are not historic structures, and it is not essential that they remain in the current location in the town core.
It appears that all but one town council member, and the Frisco community development department, opted to sacrifice the historic preservation of the Staley House location in order to preserve every non-historic log building on the Foote property instead. Perhaps the iconic Foote's Rest as well. Kelly Foote has insisted that he needs the entire Staley House property in order to develop the project that he has already drawn, and nine lots will not be enough; he must have 10. Alternately, a different perspective might be to move the log buildings located on 5th Ave. to a location where they can be enjoyed by the public, selling lot #4 to Kelly, leaving enough room to develop the hotel around the Foote's Rest Building. The Staley House remains on Lot #3 and becomes part of our development. Under this scenario, both iconic, historic buildings are preserved and enjoyed as part of the future vibrancy of Main Street Frisco.
We believe that the residents and business owners of Frisco deserve the opportunity to weigh in on this important decision that impacts the future of Main Street Frisco. Why rush to make this decision without any community involvement? Ask questions and let your voices be heard on December 6. Council has scheduled a tour of Staley house from 4-5 p.m. for those of you who are available during business hours. Additionally, there is a brief presentation and discussion directly following at Town Hall. This will be your opportunity to hear the explanation of decision-making by your town council. Tell your town council that you want more meetings and more information before such an important decision is made concerning the future of your town; insist that the second reading be delayed until the busy holiday season is over. The first reading slipped through unnoticed by all except a handful; surprisingly, it was rescheduled three times until it finally passed quietly on the night of November 8, when all were home riveted by the our national election. The 34-page packet explaining the details of this proposed sale and development did not become available until November 4, the Friday prior to the Tuesday night council meeting.
If you are unable to attend the council meeting on Dec. 6 but would like to voice your opinion, please leave your comments for council members at firstname.lastname@example.org
Without input from the community this sale will be approved at the second reading on Dec. 13.
Jeff & Sue Counihan
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