Glenwood tourist lodge sparks debate
Glenwood Springs correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
GLENWOOD SPRINGS ” A debate over a proposed Glenwood Springs tourist lodge also is bringing to the surface differences of opinion over what the city’s future identity should be.
The developers of the Roaring Fork Lodge project laid out their proposal at a Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association reception at Aspen Glen Wednesday night and received decidedly mixed reviews.
Representatives in the tourism industry praised the proposed condo/hotel project, and especially its plan for a conference center from 8,000 to 10,000 square feet in size. But several Glenwood residents objected to the building size, and worried about how it would further change the city’s character.
“This is a residential area that it feels like you are jamming commercial (development) into,” said John Korrie. He lives on Midland Avenue, north of the site of the proposed project at Midland and 27th Street.
“It just seems too massive for the area of town it’s in. This is not downtown Glenwood,” he said.
Korrie said it seems that developers keep trying to turn Glenwood into an Aspen or Vail.
“It’s not like our town is sitting here starving for what you’re proposing here,” he said.
But Kate Collins, vice president of tourism and marketing for the chamber, said the lodge proposal would further enhance a town with a 100-year history as a tourist destination.
“I think the time is now; we really need to choose what we are going to be, what’s our identity,” she said.
That choice isn’t whether to be another Aspen or Vail, she said.
“What we want to be is the best Glenwood we can be.”
She called the Roaring Fork Lodge a “high-caliber project.”
“We need to seize on it and make it work for us,” Collins said.
The project would consist of 76 hotel rooms, 40 condominiums and 30,000 square feet of commercial space, including the conference center, a spa, restaurant and fitness center.
Developer Terry Claassen said it will target people who want to enjoy the skiing, fishing, hiking, biking, golfing and other outdoor recreation attractions in Glenwood Springs.
“Certainly everyone knows about Aspen. We want to focus on what Glenwood Springs has to offer,” he said.
The project is proposed to be five stories high. Its height and size have caused some concern among neighbors and some City Council members. However, the resort commercial zoning for the property allows for a building that tall, and with up to 188,000 square feet of space, which is significantly more than what is being proposed, Claassen said.
“We certainly hear what everybody is saying about the massiveness and we want to do the right thing. But whoever created the zoning – it wasn’t us – had a vision of a high-density project here,” Claassen said.
Developers are preparing a formal development application to the city that they say will include adjustments in architecture and building orientation on the property to address concerns about the building’s massive appearance. The changes are aimed in part at responding to a couple in a condo adjacent to the property who fear they literally would end up living in the building’s shadow.
One of the changes involves moving the building so it’s not so close to the Roaring Fork River.
Claassen said the condos will start at $300,000 for two-bedroom units, and provide housing for local residents. But Rew Rixom, a Glenwood Springs Web site developer, questioned how affordable that is for a lot of working-class people.
“This market is crazy and this town really – it’s changed in the last eight years that I’ve been here, and probably not for the better. Big-box stores are moving in, lots of young families are moving down-valley. … It’s disappointing but it’s exciting at the same time,” he said.
Sharill Hawkins, who runs a bed and breakfast near Glenwood Springs, said in an interview that she is excited by the idea of a conference center where weddings can be held.
“I think we need that, and just to improve what it looks like down there,” she said of the rundown appearance of the former Racquet Club that the lodge would replace.
Heath Manning and Susan Peters, partners in Halcyon Productions, a Carbondale company that works in sound and lighting, said the convention center would help Glenwood grow as a destination for higher-end events and would bring more jobs to town.
“I think it would just be good for the entire area,” Manning said.
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