By John Colson
Sopris Sun Staff Writer
Between 20 and 30 people came out on June 7 to check out a new development proposal by local builder Briston Peterson and his partners, who hope to create a mixed-use residential and commercial project in between the planned new City Market store and West Main Street.
“I haven’t heard one negative comment (about the plan),” said Peterson at the meeting, which started at 6 p.m. at Town Hall.
That assessment was echoed by long-time Carbondale resident Maureen Nuckols, who declared while viewing drawings of the plan, “I don’t think anybody’s against it,” adding that some people she has talked to want to ensure that the quality of the development is of high enough standards to benefit the town.
Both the City Market project (including creation of a First Bank along Highway 133 and a gas station component of the City Market business) and the new proposal by Peterson would be built on land that is part of a 23-acre parcel once owned by the adjacent Colorado Rocky Mountain School, which has been subject to various failed development plans since 1999.
The Peterson plan, which is still evolving, calls for three apartment buildings at the north end of the property, close to the planned City Market building, according to illustrations tacked up on the walls of the meeting room.
In Peterson’s proposal, two of those buildings would be three stories tall, with a middle one at two stories, as the plans were described.
Other aspects of the plan include a possible two-story structure along Main Street that could be given over to live-work spaces, known as Space To Create, for local artisans and artists, as part of the ongoing Creative District planning process spearheaded by the Carbondale Arts organization.
Carbondale Arts director Amy Kimberly said on Wednesday that she had reviewed Peterson’s proposal and noted, “I like what they’re trying to do there” in terms of providing affordable housing, and open space for public uses, as well as the idea of Space To Create and other business aspects of the plan.
She said, though, that the Space To Create idea is dependent on a complicated array of factors, including state support from the Colorado Creative Industries agency and other entities, and that “there is no guarantee that the route that we are pursuing will come through” in terms of funding and other support.
In his proposed development, Peterson also has envisioned a bank of mixed-use buildings, with commercial on the ground floor and residential above, along Main Street; a couple of office buildings along Hendrick Drive; and a large open field in the center of the project with room for a playing field and a community garden.
In addition, according to project engineer Yancy Nichol, Peterson has offered to create a bus stop at the east side of the project, on Hendrick Drive extended, to accommodate Roaring Fork Transportation Authority buses traveling either to Main Street or perhaps all the way to the Crystal Meadows senior housing complex about a quarter mile to the south.
“RFTA is thinking about it,” Nichol said.
The Peterson proposal is not directly linked to the City Market project, according to Peterson and his planning team, though the two will share some of the infrastructure involved in the project.
A young local tutor who has lived in town for a year and a half, Megan Tackett, looked over the plans and remarked, “I think it could potentially be lovely. I certainly agree with the goals of creating more affordable and attainable housing.”
Vicki Peterson (no relation to Briston Peterson), a partner in the Ace Hardware business in Carbondale, agreed, saying, “I think it’s going to be a good thing. It’s kind of following stuff we talked about in the Roadmap,” a community-based planning effort more than a decade ago to identify possible uses for the land now planned for City Market and the adjacent proposal.
Briston Peterson said he plans to submit a development application to Town Hall “in short order,” after he has gone through the comments submitted at Tuesday’s open house.