Glenwood pans look of auto dealerships
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A design for new auto dealerships in west Glenwood Springs is mundane, the Glenwood Springs City Council said Thursday.
The council’s assessment came in response to a proposal for the site of the 1st Choice Inns and the Budget Host hotels, which will be torn down to make room for the dealerships.
A source of disappointment was the switch from a proposed three-story facility to two separate buildings measuring 20,000 and 22,000 square feet. One would house a Honda dealership, and the other would hold Subaru and Nissan dealerships. Current facilities for those dealerships in south Glenwood Springs would be redeveloped.
City officials had praised Vista Auto Group’s prior plan for a single, three-story structure as an innovative design representing the future of development in Glenwood Springs – building upward and conserving land. Vista officials said those plans were scrapped because it proved too difficult to satisfy the guidelines of each manufacturer in just one building.
Councilman Russ Arensman said the three-story design would have been something really different, in the direction Glenwood needs to be going.
“To me this looks pretty ordinary, to tell you the truth,” Arensman said of the two-story structures. “The sides are just ugly.”
He was pleased with the green in the landscaping plan and the decision to keep large cottonwoods at the back of the site, if the landscaping is actually done that way.
“I was very disappointed to see the loss of the multi-story. It was very innovative,” added Councilman Dave Merritt.
He said he’s disappointed with the latest architectural layout, calling it “mundane.” The “vast expanses” of flat wall need to be broken up somehow, Merritt said.
“You guys came to us with a conceptual on a different project, and you were telling us that project was great because it wasn’t going to be what this project is,” said
Mayor Bruce Christensen.
Mike Simpson, an architect with Vista, said the Elk Mountain car dealership project in Glenwood is a good example of what Vista wants to accomplish at its site.
Some council members disliked the corporate design standards insisted upon by the auto manufacturers ” Honda’s requirement that its building must be entirely white or off-white, for example.
“We realize your corporate identities or desires of your building,” said Councilman Dave Johnson. “But also keep in mind we have a city character we’re trying to maintain.”
Added Councilman Dave Sturges: “I think compatibility with this area is going to be a huge challenge, and I hope you have some success in carrying that back to the manufacturers. I don’t anticipate necessarily a great deal of neighborhood cheering about this, and I think that you’re going to have to approach the issue of aesthetics and visual impact. This battle between functionality and compatibility is a difficult one. … I think the community deserves some really exceptional work here.”
“I would agree with Russ that this plan seems very ordinary. I would really encourage you to pursue a higher standard,” said council member Kris Chadwick.
Lighting was also a big concern for council members. One benefit of the previous plan was that “there weren’t going to be acres of cars under bright lights,” Christensen said.
“I think it’s time that Honda, Chevrolet and all of these other companies learn that when they come into communities they are members of these communities,” he said later. “We are not members of their corporation, and we don’t necessarily want their identity.”
Vista purchased the 1st Choice Inns in November for $4.9 million and the Budget Host in August for $1.3 million. A mobile-home property east of the Village Green Apartments is also under contract to make way for an access road to the apartments from the east, instead of the current route between the two hotels. Vista has donated an undisclosed amount to Catholic Charities to benefit people displaced from about 142 rooms between the two hotels.
Ron Liston, a local architect working with Vista, said it was unfortunate the previous plan didn’t work out.
“We are disappointed also,” he said. “Be that as it may, our goal is to be good neighbors to the community and do everything we can to make this work for everybody.”
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