Eagle: Shopping center’s height still a concern | VailDaily.com

Eagle: Shopping center’s height still a concern

EAGLE, Colorado ” The developers of Eagle River Station unveiled their scaled-back proposal to the Eagle Planning and Zoning Commission last week, touting 77,500 fewer square feet of retail space, among other changes.

But members of the Planning Commission, which advises the town board of trustees on development plans, were still concerned the buildings were too tall.

Trinity RED Development proposes a mixed use project that includes a regional retail center and 581 residential units. The revised plan calls for approximately 555,000 square feet of commercial space divided between big box tenants on the eastern end of the property and an outdoor, main street “lifestyle center” located in the heart of the development

“Exactly what is a lifestyle center?” asked planning commissioner Darryl Lundholm.

Jeff McMahan, of RED Development, said the term was coined about six to eight years ago to describe increasingly popular outdoor shopping centers that have been replacing traditional indoor malls. “Lifestyle centers bring in tenants from all aspects of your lifestyle,” he explained.

In presenting their new vision for the center, Eagle River Station developers detailed the evolution of their plan from when it was first proposed in 2006. Originally, the plan included a large hotel with a water park feature, a private school and additional big box retailers. Early plans also depict large asphalt parking lots to service 649,000 square feet of retail space.

The revised plan doesn’t have a department store that would have been between the main street shopping area and the residential units. Parking areas are broken up with landscaping. The private school has been eliminated; and building in the lifestyle center area have been shortened from 55 feet to 45 feet.

The highest point of the multi-family residential units is still proposed at 65 feet tall. Planning commissioners questioned whether buildings that tall were appropriate for Eagle.

“Sixty-five feet of anything is unacceptable to me for anything but maybe a bell tower,” planning commissioner Bob Egan said.

During public comment, Eagle River Station’s critics said the plan changes weren’t substantive enough to win their support.

Jan Rosenthal Townsend, one of the development’s most vocal critics, said the proposal is still an ordinary strip mall and that Eagle should expect more. Additionally she questioned the feasibility of the plan in an uncertain national financial climate.

“If Eagle says no, people say Eagle River Station would go to Avon or Gypsum … but it hasn’t yet,” she said.

The hearing was continued until 6 p.m., April 29.

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