Boardwalk Lofts project draws mixed reactions from Grand Lake residents
The communities of the high country have a complex relationship with development.
Most citizens grasp the importance of development for economic vitality while remaining concerned about the impacts developments will have on the places they love and cherish. It is not surprising then that a large development planned for Grand Lake is creating some mixed feelings for many residents of the quant mountain town.
The development in question is called the Boardwalk Lofts and will be located at 824 Grand Avenue, in the space currently occupied by the no-longer-operational Grand Lake Lanes bowling alley. The development will be a multilevel structure containing underground parking, retail and commercial space, and multiple condominium housing units. Sloan Construction LLC of Boulder will be overseeing construction on the project.
Grand Lake Town Manager Jim White said the development was “large scale” for Grand Lake, but was careful to maintain a neutral position regarding his own feelings about the development. White said he believed the Gateway Inn was the last development done in Grand Lake of the same relative scale as the Boardwalk Lofts.
“This went to the Planning and Zoning Commission first and followed our normal review process,” White said. The developer had initially requested several variances from the town but some of those details were worked out without variances. White said the developer reduced the size of the building to accommodate Grand Lake’s open space requirements, and thus eliminate the need for a variance.
There was also discussion about possible parking variances for the project. White pointed out Grand Lake has parking regulations requiring a specific number of parking spaces based on the size of developments. In 2016, the town board approved changes in the municipal code that allows for the payment of a fee in lieu of those required parking spaces. Under the code, if developers like Sloan Construction do not have the required parking spaces they must pay a $1,000 fee for each unavailable parking space. The fee is not considered a variance under the town codes. White said the town expects Sloan Construction to pay somewhere between $28,000 and $32,000 in fees in places of parking spaces.
The Grand Lake Board of Trustees voted final approval of the Lofts project at their Feb. 27 meeting. The Grand Lake Board had two vacant seats at the time, after the January resignations of former Trustees Jim Gasner and Lance Sabo. The vote on Feb. 27 was approved 4-1 with Trustee Kathy Lewis voting against the measure.
Several individuals have sent letters to the town government regarding the development both in support and against. Michael Querio is the executive Artistic director for the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre, one of the buildings that will neighbor the Boardwalk Lofts once construction is completed.
“I’m writing to you today to share with you our excitement about your proposed development, considering that we will be your closest neighbor to the west upon completion of the project,” Querio states. “I want to let you know that all of us at the Rocky Mountain Repertory Theatre are very open to your plans and ideas. We are very encouraged at the prospect of this development next to our property.”
Others members of the Grand Lake community were not so thrilled about the development. Grand Lake resident Judy Capra expressed her opposition to the project.
“This project will offend a good many people, property owners as well as tourists,” Capra stated. “It is not the town’s responsibility to pass a developer’s plans; it’s the developer’s responsibility to meet the vision of the town as described in the regs…This is NOT only a controversial project, it is also irreversible. It would change the image of Grand Lake. And change it for the worse.”
Still others found themselves caught somewhere in between support and opposition, like Lindsay Jaquith. In her letter to the town, Jaquith briefly touches upon her family’s history in Grand Lake and where her property sits. Her family cabin, the Sunshine Cottage, is located directly behind the existing bowling alley.
“As much as I want to show the entire world our little piece of heaven in the Rockies, I also long to keep it sacred,” Jaquith states. “I know how important tourism is to small town like Grand Lake, but I selfishly wish no one else will ever discover it. Or at least I wish they would discover it as I have seen it over the past 27 years.”
Jaquith outlines some of her concerns regarding traffic, trash and the potential that visitors will trespass across her property with frequency if the development is constructed as proposed. Jaquith expressed her desire that the plans either be refigured, or the development be relocated to a place, “that will not obstruct anyone’s views of these beautiful mountain pines.”
Grand Lake town officials anticipate construction beginning on the project sometime this summer.
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