ArtSpace zeros in on new location for Grand Lake workforce housing
A developer offered Grand Lake trustees two ideas for a new workforce housing project in town on Monday.
Both plans would take hold on a series of adjacent lots along Park Avenue, between Pitkin and Hancock streets. Overall, the plan was well received among trustees, a welcome sign for the project after residents pushed back against hopes to build by the Grand Lake Center earlier this year.
Grand Lake was one of a handful of Colorado communities awarded a Space to Create workforce housing project through a competitive process furnished by the state. The state selected ArtSpace, a nonprofit developer, to manage the project, which will include live-work space for artists and creative-types.
The lots that form the newly identified site back up to the alley behind Spirit Lake Traders, Grand Pizza and other local businesses, which would put the new housing project squarely in the downtown area, less than a block away from Grand Avenue, if it comes to fruition.
On Monday, developers pitched pursuing one of two potential projects for the site — one featuring a 20-unit blueprint and the other with 30 housing units. The driving reason for the different sizes is funding, ArtSpace Chief Operations Officer Will Law told trustees.
He said the two most likely sources for primary financing — the Colorado Housing and Finance Authority or the Department of Local Affairs — each have different criteria they want met, and the 20 unit project could satisfy DOLA while the 30-unit plan would better suit CHFA.
As presented Monday, the concept for the 20-unit layout would house the project on four publicly owned lots. The plan includes an “L” shaped building with “shotgun style units” on the first floor, allowing for boutique-type storefronts with residential dynamics on the backside of those housing units.
The storefront concepts are designed to be somewhat flexible, which would help accommodate different artists’ needs and a seasonal production schedule if necessary, developers said.
“In the back, we’re envisioning, we’re calling an ‘art court,’ but it’s a community space connecting to a commons area,” added Scott Munn of Munn Architecture, explaining that the space could be used for hosting public meetings and community events.
“That will activate the corner and anchor the corner in a nice community way,” he said.
Parking would go on one of the lots in what was described as an “efficient” slotted parking design. The building’s second story would hold a gallery or commons area and more housing.
Not much different from the smaller plan, the larger plan is a bit bigger with many of the same elements. One of the main differences is that the 30-unit concept plan requires the town take ownership of one of the private parcels adjacent to the four public lots.
Most of Monday’s discussions at the trustees’ workshop meeting revolved around fears of lost parking in the downtown core and how the town might make up those spaces.
It remains to be seen exactly how many parking spaces the town could lose with the project, if any, until the designs are complete. The designs presented Monday were only concept site plans, created to help trustees get an idea of the scope of the project and the proposed location.
“I want to clarify that I support the project, but I just think parking continues to be an issue and we need to get as much parking as we can back there,” Trustee Cindy Southway said. “If that means the town needs to budget in the future to buy more of those lots … I just think we need to look toward the future. We’re going to need that parking.”
With trustees amenable to the concept, the next step is for the developer to engage the public and get more feedback on the proposed location and plan.
In other business:
• Trustees agreed to close the donation center at the Grand Lake Center due to rising COVID-19 cases and tightening restrictions. The donation pickup, which opened following the East Troublesome Fire, will close after this weekend as trustees wanted to allow people to get through the holiday weekend. The plan is to reopen before Christmas, depending on COVID-19.
• Trustees got an update on the status of the Grand Lake Cemetery and pledged the town’s support in the recovery effort.
• In workshop, trustees were agreeable to continuing work on a new town marquee. The town used to have two marquees. The one in Town Park was taken down this year because it was starting to fall and posed a hazard. A design contest for a new marquee winner was selected on Monday. There were some public comments asking the board to consider if placing the marquee in the park is the right decision. The discussion is ongoing.
• The board adopted the 2021 budget and kept the town’s mill levy unchanged at 6.812 mills. Town staff described the 2021 budget as relatively conservative, especially on any revenue projections, given the uncertainty surrounding COVID-19.
• Trustees approved a contract with the Grand Foundation to have the foundation administer a $35,000 donor advised fund for the town. Grand Lake wants the money distributed to nonprofits that directly improve the lives of Grand Lake citizens.
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