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Powder Room aims to reopen in Steamboat

Homeowners appeal Clock Tower nightclub plans in Ski Time Square

Scott Agnew hopes to reopen the Powder Room nightclub in Clock Tower Square, but owners of residential condominiums above the club say he lacks adequate parking for a change of use approved by the city.
Tom Ross

— The Clock Tower Square building is poised to return to its roots as a nightclub, but residential owners in the building bracketed by Burgess Creek Road and Ski Time Square Drive aren’t thrilled about it.

Scott Ag­new confirmed last week that he hopes to remodel three commercial condominiums in the garden level of the building to revive the Powder Room nightclub, which enjoyed a popular but brief run in The St. Cloud Mountain Club, a couple of blocks east in Ski Time Square.

“The space in the St. Cloud was absolutely elegant, but the style of tables there made it feel a little like a restaurant. This will be more of a lounge atmosphere,” Agnew said.



He hopes to complete a modest tenant finish in time to open and a catch the tail end of ski season. However, that could depend on the time it takes to complete the public process.

Agnew already has a liquor license, but Steamboat Springs lawyer Jill Brabec has appealed a recent ruling by city planning staff on behalf of the owners of six residential condominiums on the upper floors of the building. The appeal is scheduled to go to the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission on Feb. 24.



Senior City Planner Bob Keenan said the administrative decision to allow the change of use from vacant office to nightclub was straightforward.

“The Clock Tower building is in the G-2 zone district,” Keenan said. “It’s our most intense land-use designation at the base of the ski area.”

Brabec’s appeal relies heavily on her conviction that planning staff has overestimated the available parking spots at Clock Tower Square.

“Our disagreement is in regard to the parking count,” Brabec said Thursday. “I don’t think there’s actually 30 spaces there. In total, there are 20-some spaces for the residences and all of the commercial.”

A midday visit to the Clock Tower last week showed virtually all of the parking spots taken. However, Keenan said an inventory of spaces assigned to the various units of the building showed there are sufficient spaces for the nightclub to meet city planning criteria.

Brabec said her clients’ primary concern is that Powder Room customers who succeed in parking close to the nightclub will congregate at their cars at closing time and create noise in the parking lot.

Keenan said it wasn’t the Planning Department’s role to approve or deny the change of use in Clock Tower Square’s commercial spaces by anticipating the potential for noise issues.

“We can deal with issues as they come up, but we can’t deny (the change of use) based on the potential to create impacts,” Keenan said.

Ironically, the Clock Tower’s third floor housed a lively nightspot long before it was converted to residential condos.

The Clock Tower began its existence in about 1976 as Diamond Lil’s Saloon. The dining/entertainment space on the upper levels has been reinvented several times since, but in the early 1980s, it was a popular nightspot oriented to dancing to the rock music of the era on a crowded floor.

History aside, Brabec wrote to Planning Director Tyler Gibbs on behalf of the residential owners at the Clocktower that the inability of the nightclub to meet parking requirements and development standards in the G-2 zone district would result in a “severe negative impact on the residential units.”

The criteria for changes of use require the nightclub owners to provide an accessible parking space and a bicycle rack, he said.

One residential owner, Bob Atkinson, wrote to Gibbs to say he and his neighbors have become accustomed to a mix

of family-friendly commercial operations in the lower floors of the building, including Christy Sports’ rental operation and Steam­boat Powdercats.

“Most important to me is the preservation of the family atmosphere and quiet enjoyment of our property,” Atkinson wrote. “Our bedrooms and family rooms are as near as 15 feet to the entrance to the proposed tavern. There may be as many as 25 to 30 children staying in the six residential condos at any one time.”

Powder Room

Agnew plans to remove dividing walls between three designated commercial spaces on the eastern side of the lower level of Clock Tower Square. Conundrum Technologies previously occupied the most visible entryway. The largest space wraps around the old Con­un­drum space to the rear and opens up about 3,000 square feet.

Agnew said as it did in its former location, the new Powder Room will try to achieve a reputation as an upscale nightspot where guests are comfortable dressing up — a woman might use the coat check room to change from snow boots to heels, for example, he said.

He confirmed that part of the reason for his business’ leaving the St. Cloud Mountain Club was that it attracted a younger crowd than the well-heeled older members of the St. Cloud who value the club for valet parking and ski service as well as for entertaining.

The interior of St. Cloud is notable for dark hardwood and marble finishes. The new Powder Room will have an urban feel, with stained concrete floors and comfortable furniture that is easily moved to the walls to create a 1,000-square-foot dance floor, Agnew said.

Agnew said he was interested in managing the noise of the music system by avoiding large sub-woofer speakers and creating a system that permeated the entire room.

The Powder Room will meet the demand for food service by ordering takeout meals from restaurants close by.

— To reach Tom Ross, call 970-871-4205 or e-mail tross@SteamboatToday.com


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