Midvalley hotel: Good idea or sore thumb?
A midvalley development proposal is drawing praise for its unique plan to provide a living and working enclave for artists and craftsmen but mixed reviews for an 80-unit hotel.
The Kodiak Park development would surround an existing private water ski pond east or upvalley from the heart of El Jebel. The proposal by Ace and Jennifer Lane would retain the retail and wholesale nursery on their land as well as preserve 182 acres of open space on the 204-acre property.
Development would be clustered around the water ski pond. That includes 27 residential units, seven short-term rental cabins, and mixed-use lots with offices, studios for artists, retail shops and “clean manufacturing” businesses on lower levels and residences on top.
An 80-unit hotel with a 100-space parking lot would be built between Highway 82 and the water ski lake, almost directly across Highway 82 from its intersection with Willits Lane.
The proposal would add about 147,000 square feet of commercial space, including the hotel, to the El Jebel area.
The Lanes’ representatives – land-use planner Glenn Horn and architect Glenn Rappaport – noted that businesses, such as a nice restaurant, would be oriented around the ski lake.
The mixed-use concept would allow artists and craftsmen to have studio space to work in and display their products while living in nearby housing.
The consultants also stressed the development will feature a road that resembles a small-town street, with on-street parking, rather than a sterile frontage road like the one across the highway at Orchard Plaza. The development will have a small-town Western feel, according to Rappaport.
“I like it. I wish it was on the other side of the street, too,” said planning commission member Temple Glassier.
Planning commission chairman Bob Schultz credited the plan for following a vision.
“There’s an idea there. Somebody thought it out,” said Schultz. “[But] the hotel sticks out like a sore thumb. It’s really a UFO on the site.”
Rappaport maintained that the hotel fits into the Kodiak Park concept. If art-oriented classes are offered, for example, having the hotel there would make the whole concept more effective.
He claimed the Lanes would shop for a hotel operator that would buy into the small-town character and its requirements on design.
His pitch failed to sway some members of the planning commission and audience. Planning commissioner Bonnie Kowar noted, “I can’t support any size hotel.” It doesn’t make sense to place a hotel where guests would just hit the road to get to their real destinations, she said.
Audience member George Lilly concurred and urged denial of the entire project.
“El Jebel is not a destination resort that requires a hotel,” Lilly said.
Planning commissioner Don Barnes countered that the site was the right place for a hotel, especially if incorporated into the Lanes’ concept for the rest of the development.
“You might have less public opposition if you called it an inn,” he suggested.
The Lanes can call it whatever they want, but they might risk their approvals if the hotel remains as proposed, chairman Schultz suggested. The planning commission took no formal vote. Instead, it will resume review with a visit to the site on Oct. 21.
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