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Carbondale turning to community for input on Town Center parcels

June First Friday ‘vision party’ planned on site

Several vacant parcels now surround the Thunder River Theatre at the Town Center property in Carbondale, which were gifted to the town at the close of 2021. Town leaders are launching a public input process to help determine how best to develop the area, with an eye toward affordable housing.
John Stroud/Post Independent

Carbondale trustees and town staff are looking to the broader community to help envision the future for several undeveloped downtown parcels that were recently donated to the town.

And, in typical Carbondale style, they’re planning a big party with artistic elements to help accomplish that.

During the town’s June 3 First Friday celebration, the public is invited to stop by the Town Center site on Colorado Avenue, across from the Carbondale Recreation Center and Town Hall, for an interactive “vision party.”



The event is set to take place from 5-7:30 p.m. near the Thunder River Theatre, which is one of only two buildings currently on the property, along with a mixed-use commercial building at the corner of Colorado and Fourth streets.

Late in December 2021, the town received word that a total of 14 vacant parcels at the Town Center site, valued at more than $2.4 million, were being gifted to the town.




Also part of the deal was the vacant lot at the southeast corner of Main and Fourth streets, which the town intends to preserve as a downtown park and events venue.

The Town Center site has been envisioned by private developers for various types of commercial and/or mixed-use development over the years since a former trailer park was razed and the property was subdivided and partly developed in the late 1990s.

The town is likely to work with a developer on a mixed-use project, with a heavy emphasis on housing. But how that should look and what all it might entail is something town leaders want residents to help determine.

“This outreach event is called a ‘vision party’ because we want the community to get excited about the possibilities and opportunities, Mayor Ben Bohmfalk said of the June 3 event. “We will have ice cream and family-friendly creative activities coordinated by Carbondale Arts.”

Town Manager Lauren Gister said it’s an opportunity for the town to develop a project with community interest and desires in mind.

“We gained a lot of insight from the outreach conducted during the town’s Comprehensive Plan update, such as the need for more affordable housing and community commercial driven spaces like live-work and makers spaces. But we want to know what else we should consider.”

Earlier this year, the town hired Carbondale-based planning consultant Bob Schultz to do some research on past development plans and analyze the properties for future potential.

Gister said during a Carbondale Board of Trustees work session this week that the June 3 event will have displays with information about the properties and offer a variety of interactive opportunities for the public to engage in the process.

“We plan to have anywhere from six to nine stations with lots of creative ways to just get the ideas flowing, and also to inform the public about what studies have already been done and are already out there … that feed into how we look at developing a piece of property or guide someone else in developing a property,” Gister said.

Examples are the valleywide housing needs assessment that was done in 2018 and the town’s Comprehensive Plan, which is currently being updated, she said.

The community engagement and feedback efforts are to continue throughout June, including during the town board’s June 21 work session, she said. A separate Spanish language session is also in the works.

From that, the board should be able to make some decisions about parameters, what the board feels is non-negotiable and whether there’s some flexibility in things like parking requirements and other development standards, Gister said.

Those could then be included in a formal request for proposals from developers.

Senior Reporter/Managing Editor John Stroud can be reached at 970-384-9160 or jstroud@postindependent.com.

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