Eagle mall under further review
EAGLE, Colorado ” Maybe next week.
The Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission had hoped to issue a recommendation Tuesday night on the proposed Eagle River Station shopping and residential complex. Instead, the commission wrestled with a staff recommendation for approval that included more than 120 conditions.
The commissioners also had to sort through the developers’ reaction to those conditions, during a five-hour marathon session. When the clock hit midnight, the commission members voted to try to finish their work at a special meeting on July 24 at 6 p.m.
Eagle River Station is being proposed by developer Trinity/RED in the open lands along the Interstate 70 corridor east of town. The planning commission has been reviewing the project for the past four months. Once the commission completes its deliberations and issues its recommendation, the project will proceed to the Eagle Town Board for final review, unless the complex goes to a town ballot.
During this week’s deliberations, Planning Commission Chairman Scott Turnipseed questioned the fundamental appropriateness of the plan. He cited sections of the 1996 Eagle Area Community Plan, which advocates a small-town, non-resort atmosphere for Eagle and a downtown commercial core.
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“I don’t think this development is at all small scale and it does create another main commercial area,” he said.
Other commission members also voiced difficulty in reconciling the proposed 550,000 square foot shopping area with the vision of Eagle as a small town.
“To me, this project is just a little too big,” said commission member Bob Egan. “It doesn’t fit our standards,”
In fact, the commission previously made that determination. When Eagle River Station first came before the town with its zoning plan last year, the commission recommended denial; but the town board approved the concept plan. While that approval does not give Trinity/RED specific development rights, it did give approval for the general concept of a shopping center and accompanying housing units for the site.
Chief among the commission’s concerns was Eagle River Station’s workforce housing plan, building heights and the parking.
Planning commission members have repeatedly noted the vast majority of the commercial space is slated to be built first. That means nearly 2,000 workers will be needed and those people will, in turn, need places to live.
Regarding building height, commission members stood firm that the proposal to allow 65-foot ridge height for the largest residential buildings is not acceptable. The staff recommendation calls for four-story buildings with a maximum height of 45 feet.
On the issue of parking, the developer says that 4.5 spaces for 1,000 square feet of retail space is necessary. “We think we have a pretty good hand for what works and what will be successful,” said Mike Hans of RED development.
Commission members, however, questioned if the vast parking lot is really necessary.
When given their chance to speak, members of the public added some final thoughts.
Local businesswoman Jan Rosenthal-Townsend, an outspoken opponent of the plan, questioned the overall logic of building Eagle River Station during this uncertain economic time.
Mark Hall, an Eagle resident and Glenwood Springs business owner, urged the commission to approve the plan. He argued the town needs the sales tax base the large retail development would bring.
“I think there will be a collective groan in Eagle if a Target goes to Gypsum,” he said.