Controversy absent from new Marketplace plans
New plans for the controversial Crystal River Marketplace development site opened to positive reviews from Carbondale residents who examined the project Tuesday night. The residents, along with developers and town officials, gathered to look over the results of months of planning and haggling to come up with a new development proposal for the large-scale retail and residential development. Voters rejected developer Brian Husters initial plans in a town vote in 2003.The draft plan outlined in text and maps Tuesday at Town Hall has yet to receive the blessing of the towns Board of Trustees, but even one-time opponents of Husters development proposals were upbeat about the current planning effort.Its very easy to talk to [developer] Rich [Schierburg], said Carbondale resident Joani Matranga, a member of the Road Map Group, which has been working with the town and the developers to formulate a plan for the Marketplace.Schierburg, manager of the Denver-based Peregrine Group Development LLC, said his company is poised to buy the Marketplace site from Huster and take over the development.Its positive, said Road Map Group co-chair Ro Mead, who was a member of a group named the Town Mothers that spearheaded the move to defeat Husters plans. The feeling in here is more positive than since the beginning of the Marketplace discussion.The current project calls for a total of between 160,000 and 175,000 square feet of retail space, including a 60,000-square-foot space for the anchor store; between 150 and 175 housing units, 15 percent of which must be affordable under town codes; three junior anchors of about 20,000 square feet apiece; and a mix of commercial and office space scattered around the site.The defeated proposal called for 252,000 square feet of commercial space, anchored by a 125,000-square-foot site for a big-box retailer. Huster bought the 22-acre property, on Highway 133, from Colorado Rocky Mountain School in 1999.Husters local representative, attorney Eric Gross, said there is still a possibility that the City Market grocery store will move from its current location at the intersection of Main Street and Highway 133 into the anchor space at the Marketplace, but nothing is signed. He and others said nothing has been decided about what businesses might move into the retail spaces should the project move forward.But Dan Guimond, principal of EPS consultants, which has been working with the town on Marketplace issues and other matters, said there is a list of 25 to 30 potential national chains that might be interested in the junior anchor spaces, such as Barnes & Noble, Office Depot, Old Navy, PetCo, Circuit City and others.The draft conceptual plans, displayed on large posters in the towns meeting room, laid out a variety of potential related issues alongside the Marketplace plans. Included was the news that the Colorado Department of Transportation last week allocated $4 million for planning, design and improvements to Highway 133 from the bridge over the Roaring Fork River to a point at the south edge of town. In addition, according to town officials, CDOT has given its blessing to the idea of building two roundabouts, one at the Main Street intersection and another at Nieslanik Place opposite the Marketplace site, in lieu of traffic lights.Carbondale has long discussed expanding the road to four lanes with landscaping and other amenities, as well as cutting new access streets into town from the highway. Currently, there are only three ways to get into town from the highway, and transportation planners have said more are needed.The wall posters also detailed a broad range of economic information relating to the potential sales tax revenues from the Marketplace ($750,000 to $1 million per year), and a variety of projects the town hopes to undertake to improve streets and other public facilities.Schierburg, who has been involved in the planning process for some time, said he has developed everything from golf subdivisions to master planned communities in Southern California and Arizona.He said he is very familiar with the Roaring Fork Valley, having come here for vacations since he was a child and establishing a network of friends here.He said he wants to get involved with a project with such a troubled history Because I think I can make it work.He said he believes the town is ready to put the past acrimony behind it and move forward.The next public meetings about the Marketplace plans will be a Community Open House, with completed drawings and economic information, from 6-9 p.m. July 5, according to town officials.The town trustees, and the planning and zoning commission have scheduled a joint meeting to take a first formal look at the plans at 6:30 p.m. July 19. John Colsons e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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