The Sopris Sun

Senior living proposal headed to trustees

The proposed Sopris Lodge Assisted Living Community is one step closer to becoming a reality, thanks to the Planning and Zoning Commission’s unanimous vote to approve the special use permit required.
The commission, with staff approval, also recommended that the Board of Trustees move to approve the overall application for the project following a public hearing on Feb. 27. If approved, the Sopris Lodge would create a 78-unit assisted living and memory care facility at 285 and 295 Rio Grande Ave.
“There is this senior tsunami that is taking place as the Baby Boomers age,” Project Manager Terry Claassen said during the meeting, referring to a feasibility study his firm commissioned for the area. “As bad as it is everywhere else, it’s twice as bad here, and that’s what this [study] in a nutshell shows.” Statewide, the senior population — categorized as 75 years and older — is expected to grow about 14 percent by 2025; in the Roaring Fork Valley, that number is 40 percent.
While commissioners and the public alike expressed general support for the project, members of the public also expressed some concerns about logistics during the public hearing, particularly as they pertain to Second Street.
The facility will increase traffic in the area, one resident contended, emphasizing that children use that street to access the Rio Grande Trail. “I’d like to see some consideration factored into there,” she said.
Kelley Amdur, who co-owns the Dandelion Inn with her husband, noted that their business’ property line may come into the conversation regarding creating a proposed pedestrian pathway on Second Street.
“We support the project. We agree that the northernmost part of Second Street needs help. We have seen the congestion, the competition for parking and the pedestrian flow,” she said. “We can work with the Town to still have some of the parking as well as the pedestrian bike path — we’re just asking to be included in the discussion with the Town and applicants as the project moves forward.”
If approved, the Sopris Lodge would be an opportunity for several partnerships, both during the construction phases and upon completion, Claassen said. “We’ve been working with CARE to see if there’s an opportunity to create a senior dog facility in the basement. Dogs that are near the end of their life and not typically wanted by their owners. It’s an amazing opportunity for both the animals and the people.”