By John Colson
Sopris Sun Staff Writer
Carbondale’s Planning and Zoning Commission (P&Z) last week recommended that the Board of Trustees (BOT) approve a subdivision proposal to build a new City Market grocery store and other commercial spaces on a parcel of land at the western edge of town adjacent to the Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS) property.
The proposed stores would be built on land previously considered for two larger developments, known as the Crystal River Market Place and the Village at Crystal River, which as proposed would have involved construction of considerably more retail and some residential development.
Both those previous plans were rejected by local voters in two separate elections, both of which followed periods of intense community controversy about the plans.
The present recommendation for approval came after the second of two hearings on the proposal, on Feb. 4, at which members of the P&Z and representatives of the City Market chain (owned by the Kroger/King Soopers grocery conglomerate) agreed to a number of changes in the original proposal.
The project, known as the Carbondale Marketplace, would result in construction of a 59,000 square-foot City Market store (to replace an older, smaller store located less than a mile away from the project site); roughly 9,000 square feet of connected retail spaces, and a separate facility housing a gas station kiosk and pumps, for a total of more than 68,000 square feet of buildings on slightly less than eight acres of ground located northwest of the intersection of Main Street and Highway 133.
Left undeveloped would be two adjacent parcels, known as Lots 1 and 5, that also are part of the 23-acre development site originally proposed for the two larger projects. The current proposal involves a subdivision of the eight-acre parcel (lots 2, 3 and 4, which comprise the center of the 23-acre property) from the portion of the property that will not be developed now.
Among the conditions recommended by the P&Z is a requirement that a right-of-way be established across lots 2, 3 and 4 so that, if lots 1 and 5 are developed as commercial establishments, shoppers are not forced to go out onto Highway 133 to get from one end of the retail complex to the other.
The right-of-way conditions also are intended to make it possible for patrons at businesses in any ultimate development of Lot 1 (the portion of the overall property that is closest to Main Street) to get to a planned roundabout at Industry Way and Highway 133, adjacent to Lot 5.
There are two access routes from Highway 133 into the proposed City Market project site, one at Nieslanik Avenue on the northern end of the site, the other at a new intersection adjacent to the gas station site.
From the Main Street side of the property, there are to be two other access routes — an extension of Hendrick Drive, which currently dead-ends into Main Street from the south, the other a new roadway known as Pabst Way (named for a former owner of the land under the project site, rancher Harald “Shorty” Pabst). Pabst Way extends northward from Main Street around the back side of the development property, joining Nieslanik Way at the northern end of the site.
Another change from the original proposal was a reduction in the number of automobile parking spaces for City Market shoppers, from 315 in the initial plan (which was 85 spaces more than required under town codes) to 257 for the grocery store. Another 47 parking spaces are to be built to serve customers at the other retail establishments in the complex.
The project also calls for creation of 35 bicycle parking spaces, including six bicycle “lockers” for long-term use and 29 parking spots in “racks” for short-term use.
There appears to be some uncertainty about how the Roaring Fork Transportation Authority (RFTA) plans to serve the new commercial complex, and one of the conditions imposed by the P&Z was that if RFTA and the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) cannot agree on a location for a bus stop on Highway 133, a spot for a bus stop will be provided by the developers within the development site.
The development team, in response to input from the P&Z members, altered the buildings east-facing facades by “stepping back” the attached retail wing by eight feet, to give the facade a more “staggered” look, and moved the entire City Market store’s building footprint about 10 feet to the east to provide a greater width for the Pabst Way right of way.
The development team also paid more attention to creating public gathering and seating areas adjacent to the buildings, and a pedestrian/bicycling connection has been added between Pabst Way and Hendrick Drive to make travel safer for those on two wheels and on their feet.
And more windows have been added to some of the exterior walls of the project, along with added shrubbery in places, to break up what some thought was a monolithic appearance to the sides of the building.
In general, the P&Z members praised the development team for its willingness to make changes as requested.
“It looks like you guys have been really responsible,” said P&Z chairman Gavin Brooke to the developers’ representatives, “and that’s really appreciated.”
According to town staff, the City Market application is expected to go before the BOT in late February or early March.
Published in The Sopris Sun on February 11, 2016.