Hotel at 10th and Yampa narrowly earns Planning Commission approval
Owner envisions a 55-room, upscale boutique hotel
Editor’s note: Commissioner George Eck’s quote was corrected at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 2.
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — A hotel planned for the corner lot at 10th and Yampa streets in downtown Steamboat Springs was narrowly approved by the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission last week.
Owner Scott Marr said he aims to build a more upscale hotel than what currently exists downtown.
“I think it’s the perfect location to do it,” Marr said. “It’s right at the end of the street, and it’s kind of in an area that has a very tranquil feel to it.”
Marr said its proximity to restaurants and downtown businesses makes it a great location.
“I think it would be a great addition to downtown and provides a lot of positive vibes for the other businesses down there,” he said.
The boutique hotel would contain 55 rooms. The entrance to the hotel’s semi-underground parking garage and lobby would be on Yampa Street, underneath three floors of hotel rooms. Additional guest parking would be available on a surface parking lot adjacent to the alley between Yampa Street and Lincoln Avenue.
Marr said he has had conversations with hotel companies about the concept of the hotel, but he hasn’t signed a contract to affiliate with a larger company.
The hotel is slated to be built at the former Yampa Valley Electric Association parking lot adjacent to Steamboat Meat and Seafood Co. Under an agreement with the landowner, the city currently allows public parking on the lot.
Marr said he would be open to working with the city to continue to allow public parking at the hotel in the off-season, based on availability.
Marr said should development approvals and contracts with construction crews go as planned, he hopes to break ground in April 2020 with a goal of opening the hotel in July 2021. Marr, who also owns the Holiday Inn, plans to operate the hotel once it is built.
On Sept. 26, the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission voted 4 to 3 to approve the development’s application for a planned unit development with commissioners Martyn Kingston, Brian Adams and George Eck opposed. The project will go before Steamboat Springs City Council on Tuesday.
Much of planning commissioners’ conversation centered around whether or not it was appropriate that the development application came forward as a planned unit development.
Planned unit developments essentially create a custom zone district. According to Steamboat’s Community Development Code, planned unit developments are intended to “permit flexibility, creativity and innovation in development when unique circumstances preclude development pursuant to standard zone district regulations or would require approval of multiple variances.”
Planned unit developments can be used to build a project when it creates an outcome “superior in terms of community enhancement” than what zoning code on a specific property allows. Since the Community Development Code changed the requirements of planned unit development applications in 2013, five planned unit developments have been approved in city limits: the Combined Law Enforcement Facility, Riverview, the expanded Old Town Hot Springs complex, the Flat Tops at Wildhorse and the Deer Park Road Corporate office at 1100 Bangtail Way.
Commissioners held differing views on whether the hotel provided the community enhancement required in the code. Most of the commissioners who voted to support the application said the proposal fits within intended code changes outlined in the recently completed Steamboat Springs Downtown Plan, which called for a code change to allow hotels as a use by right in downtown commercial zoning districts. Commissioners who voted to deny the application said it did not provide enough community benefit.
“I think staff did a great job with the developer to put together a plan that comes in line with what we adopted in the downtown plan,” said Commissioner Tom Ptach. “I fully anticipate that over the next year or so, we will be revisiting some of these standards within those districts and modifying it to the downtown plan. … We’ve got a willing developer coming forward — with what I think is great design — willing to move forward on this. The economy’s in such shape to allow him to move forward on it, and I think this is a good solution for the time that we’re sitting here.”
Eck said the project was an “end around” to get variances within the development. He added that the code changes recommended by the downtown plan haven’t been implemented.
“They’re asking for all these allowances for a PUD (planned unit development) and all this flexibility. They’re not giving anything,” Eck said. “It’s just ‘We’ll do what we want to do.’”
The development will go before City Council on Tuesday, Oct. 8 and again on Nov. 19. Council will also discuss implementing the Downtown Plan at its Nov. 12 work session.
To view the Steamboat Springs Planning Commission’s discussion on this topic, visit steamboatsprings.net/agendas.
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