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Development plan would be new City Market’s neighbor

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By John Colson
Sopris Sun Staff Writer

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According to Carbondale officials at Town Hall and a private land-use planner working on the Carbondale Marketplace project near the intersection of West Main Street and Highway 133, a proposed new and enlarged City Market store and its related commercial entities still are expected to be built.

In addition, according to a consultant involved with the City Market project, the owner of the lot just south of the City Market site along West Main Street has arranged for an open house on June 6 at the Carbondale Town Hall to gather public input about a new development idea in the same part of town.

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The site of the newly proposed development scheme, which contains slightly more than 5.3 acres of the land once owned by CRMS, is owned by local businessman Briston Peterson and his partners.

As indicated by graphics provided by the development team, the newly-hatched plan for the lot next to Main Street — known as Lot 1 — calls for construction of two of what initially are envisioned as apartments at the north side of a large, soccer-field sized patch of open space bounded on the east by an extended Hendrick Drive and on the west by a newly created street, Shorty Pabst Way.

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Pabst Way is named after the late beer magnate, Shorty Pabst, who donated the land in question to the adjacent private school, Colorado Rocky Mountain School (CRMS), which later sold the site to a developer.

The new development plan also calls for construction of two “flex building” structures, on land currently occupied by a small, vacant house just behind the 7 Eleven store, and a two-story “office” facility located to the west of the RE/MAX real estate office on Highway 133.

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Along West Main Street, according to local land-use planner Robert Schultz, who has been working with Peterson and with the City Market development team, the proposal calls for a group of retail or commercial spaces in a “mixed-use” arrangement, meaning the commercial use would be on the ground floor with office or residential on the upper floor.

Parking areas would be built around the apartments and other buildings, but not along Pabst Way.

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Schultz noted that the new development plans conflict with the existing zoning for the stretch along West Main, which is said is zoned for a “strip mall” type of development.

That existing zoning, Schultz said, dates back to the late 1990s, at least, well before developers started eyeing the property for large-scale commercial development, including the relocation of the existing City Market store from its current location to the south of West Main, in the Crystal Village Market shopping center.

The open house, which will feature illustrations of the two neighboring development projects on the walls of the meeting room, is mainly a way for Peterson to gauge public support for the idea, Schultz said.

Schultz stressed that the target audience for the open house is, in large part, local residents looking for rental housing in Carbondale, a type of housing that government officials have long said is in short supply.

“You want something that’s going to work for the people you want to house,” Schultz told the Sopris Sun in an interview this week, meaning “people who are renters” and would be interested in the apartments Briston wants to build.

The City Market proposal, which is separate from Peterson’s new plan, also calls for construction of a First Bank with a drive-through window, and a gas station, both along Highway 133.

Schultz, who also is overseeing the City Market development proposal, said Peterson’s idea first came up a couple of months ago.

“Briston contacted Rich Camp (the City Market project’s landscape architect and planner) and me, and we started talking,” Schultz said.

The overall, 23-acre property has been targeted by different developers for more than 17 years, starting with the Crystal River Marketplace proposed by developer Brian Huster’s Telluride-based Crystal River Development Co.

That project approved by the town but then turned down by voters in 2003 at the end of a tumultuous battle between the developer and a group known as the Town Mothers.

A subsequent, revised development plan, called The Village at Crystal River, was put forward by Denver-area developer Rich Schierburg and also gained government approval, first by a community-based Roadmap Group that went over the plan and then by the town government itself.

But the town’s trustees then put the matter before the electorate after it became clear that opponents of the revised project were gearing up to force an election anyway.

That project also was rejected by voters, in 2012.

The current City Market development proposal was first conceived in 2012, Schultz said, and has received approval from the town’s trustees, though a final plat has yet to be filed and actual construction cannot begin until that plat is filed.

The City Market final-plat filing has been subject to five different delays, starting last year, due to requests to extend the filing deadlines for internal reasons cited by the Kroger national grocery chain, owner of the City Market and King Soopers grocery stores.

Calls to City Market officials, to learn about their construction plans or related information, such as when the store’s current lease expires, were not returned by press deadline.

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