Owner looks into redeveloping Carbondale’s Sopris Center, adjacent parcels

John ColsonGlenwood Springs Post Independent Aspen, CO Colorado

CARBONDALE – The owner of Carbondale’s oldest shopping center, the Sopris Center at the corner of Colorado Avenue and Highway 133, is planning to redevelop that property and other, nearby parcels.The project has been submitted as a “sketch plan,” which is the first stage of development review and involves preliminary analysis by town staff members.As proposed, the redevelopment project will cover the Sopris Center, the Carbondale Mini-Storage behind the center, and the vacant lot between Colorado Avenue and Main Street and fronting on the highway.The entire property, roughly five acres, has been owned for decades by California endochrinologist Dr. Ron Stein.Town planner Janet Buck confirmed on Monday that the she and other staff members have conducted initial reviews of the plan, and that she was scheduled to meet with Stein’s development team today.Some sort of development has been envisioned for the properties for years.”They’ve been working at this for quite a while,” said planning consultant Raul Gawrys of Basalt, who is working on Stein’s proposal. Gawrys noted that Stein submitted a proposal for the vacant lot four years ago, but that plan languished in the uncertainty of the Great Recession.This time, Gawrys said, “We’re basically presenting an entire master plan for all three of those parcels.”At least for now, he said, the idea is to start with a mixed-use, residential and commercial project on the vacant lot, which comprises about 32,000 square feet.”That seems to be the most logical place to start,” he said Monday, explaining that the plan for the vacant parcel calls for commercial or retail businesses on the ground floor, with residential units above. As the plans are now, the buildings would be three stories tall.The project also calls for rerouting Colorado Avenue, which currently runs westward from Eighth Street and bisects Stein’s parcels as the street meets Highway 133.According to the sketch plan, Stein proposes having Colorado Avenue turn to the north at an undetermined point, run around the back or eastern side of the Sopris Center complex of buildings, then to turn back west to connect with Highway 133 at the northern edge of Stein’s property.Both Gawrys and Buck stressed that the proposal is at its most preliminary stage and will not be reviewed by the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission until some time in April or perhaps May.After the P&Z completes its review, the proposal will then move to the town Board of Trustees.”We’re just trying to get a better project, hopefully, for Stein and the town, both, and hopefully generate more tax revenues for the town,” Gawrys said. “We feel that we have a solid project, and that there are some benefits to the town.”Most importantly, he said, “This is a redevelopment project. It’s not taking a basically empty field and trying to build on it,” such as the ill-fated efforts to develop a 24-acre property across Highway 133 known most recently as the Village at Crystal River.”We’re just trying to create some kind of gateway,” he said, which could point the way for tourists looking for Carbondale historic downtown


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