Back to the Drawing Board for 221 Colorado Ave. Project
by Gus Jarvis
Jun 20, 2012 | 1128 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print

TELLURIDE – After receiving a 5-1 conditional approval on Friday from the Telluride Town Council, acting as the Historic and Architectural Review Commission, the developer of a small residential addition planned for the historic building at 221 Colorado Ave. is going back to the drawing board to see if the project can work within the new parameters set forth by council.

Friday’s conditional approval, with Councilmember Bob Saunders as the only dissenting vote, was a continuation of a May 30 call-up hearing where, after nearly 10 hours of presentations, public comment and deliberations, council found itself at a standstill. 

The project, previously dubbed the Steaming Bean Project, would restore the front façade of the historic building while adding a residential addition to the back of the building.

The question the heart of a long and contentious approval process has been whether the back (northern) portion of the building was constructed prior to Telluride’s historic period of significance. While both proponents and opponents of the project agree the southern portion of the building, which faces main street, was constructed during the period of significance (1886-1913) there are differing opinions as to what portions of the building that have been added on over time are historic.

On Friday, council determined that the 18-foot brick portion of the building erected before 1913 is a part of the original contributing structure. Therefore the applicant is to preserve that portion of the building as a connector in its original form, with the same roof level. The applicant, the approval states, may construct an addition beginning from that existing brick structure “substantially similar” to what HARC approved last January by a 2-1 margin.

Since council’s approval stated the addition cannot be built on the 18-foot brick portion of the building, council is allowing the applicant to modify one-foot setbacks on both east and west sides of the building and may default back to the original Land Use Code zero lot line setback. Council in its approval also stated the applicant may modify its approved plans to decrease the current 19-foot building setback near the rear toward the alley but must respect the LUC’s setback requirement of five feet. As the conditional approval aims to preserve the brick portion of the building the applicant may also redesign and eliminate a step back feature at the rear of the proposed addition.

“What this means is that we are back at square one with designing this,” said Dirk de Pagter who represents the building’s owner, Ed Sheridan in an interview on Monday. “Is there a viable design? I really don’t know yet. It is something we have to start analyzing.”

While council’s approval pushes the project’s building envelope back, de Pagter said the amount of square footage available for new construction will be a bit smaller. But he expressed more concern that redesigning the planned step-down on the back of the building could give the addition an overall “boxy” appearance.

“That is more or less the direction we were forced into,” he said. “We are trying to minimize that and we are redesigning the building in its entirety to try to fit it into the new criteria. We are not excited that we won this approval but we are going to go to work and hopefully make something worthwhile of it.”

While de Pagter expressed frustration over the process and its outcome, he said the work of Mayor Stu Fraser in the hearing shouldn’t go unnoticed.

“This became so political and the mayor did a fantastic job to resolve the impasse,” de Pagter said.

Fraser declined to comment after the hearing, because, he said, the application is still quasi-judicial and that neither he nor any other member of council can comment at this time. As stipulated in the conditional approval, the applicant must present new plans for the project by Aug. 23, 2012.

Council’s conditional approval comes after more than two years of hearings at HARC which granted its approval last January. The application was subsequently called up to council for further review by councilmembers Chris Myers and Saunders.

Prior to the call-up, in a separate hearing, council ruled that the two councilmembers showed no biased in their decision to call-up the project and ruled that they could participate in the call-up procedure. 

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