Grand Park Village has taken longer than expected, but OK may come soon
May 28, 2008
Fraser and Grand Park officials agree The Village at Grand Park final site plan is taking longer than expected to complete.
Grand Park President Clark Lipscomb said it has already taken almost four years for the site plan he says should only have taken a year to get designed and approved.
“It’s just extremely frustrating dealing with the Fraser staff right now and their lack of availability,” he said. “I can’t find anyone over there that is around, has time to meet, or returns phone calls.”
Fraser Town Manager Jeff Durbin said it’s a complex project.
“There’s no easy answer as to why this isn’t already approved,” Durbin said. “We’re working hard to get this stuff resolved and I really believe we’re closer than ever.”
Durbin said the development has made many requests.
“There were a lot of things that were proposed here that are outside of our subdivision code,” he said. “It’s a different type of subdivision and there’s a lot of complexities.”
He recited this quote: “Government, try as we might, we often move slowly and usually for a good reason.”
The staff works hard with the resources it has, he added.
“Fraser’s a small organization and we get an awful lot of work done with a small staff and very limited resources,” he said. “While I’m proud of the output from the small organization, unfortunately we can’t be as responsive as we like … A lot of people want a piece of my time. And I think a lot of people deserve a piece of my time too.”
He said the staff’s attention is divided among many issues including animal control, the flood plain, economic development and water.
“The list goes on-and-on,” Durbin added. “We just kind of have to prioritize … There’s not enough time in the day.”
Durbin said the Fraser Board of Trustees and Grand Park could resolve the plan by the next meeting, June 4.
“There’s a great potential for this project,” he added. “Grand Park and the town of Fraser can work together to resolve all of those things.”
In smaller communities there’s not much support to encourage development, Durbin said.
“We are trying to obviously create good, quality development, create a better economy than currently exists in the Fraser Valley, and it’s a constant hurdle,” Lipscomb said.
Lipscomb met with the town staff to go over the site plan before the last meeting. The developer thought all the issues were settled. Then, at the May 21 meeting, “Their planner hands us 16 new conditions,” he said.
“We talked about a number of things that need to be resolved,” Durbin said. “This has gone back-and-forth for way longer than it should have.”
Lipscomb said he is not used to the way the town works.
“Typically the way it happens, when we’re working in communities that have adequate staff, they’re very available, particularly for projects like this because they want their economy to grow,” Lipscomb said.
Grand Park plans to spend $200 million in construction for The Village, he said.
The town’s consultant-based legal system and engineers also have slowed up the process, he added.
“We just had a fifth review on several of our construction projects this year ” which is absurd,” he said, adding that it usually takes two reviews.
“And the comments we get back are all brand new comments, not included on his first four comment sets,” he said. “Oh, and by the way, items that had not changed from the number one first submittal.”
As for changing or adding things, Durbin said, “There’s no reason for us to do that.”
Lipscomb said he would rather have a good relationship with town officials.
“I generally like to be on good terms with the communities that I work in,” he said. “People like to criticize the biggest developer in town when they don’t like things to change. And they’re scared of change.”
Lipscomb said Grand Park wants to help build a more well-rounded community during the project’s 20-year span.
“My goal is to see this project to the end,” he said.
The Village at Grand Park
Ground breaking for the second building in The Village and the new public recreation center will happen in mid- to late-summer.
Grand Park’s General Store will be about 8,600-square-feet. The second floor will serve as Grand Park’s development offices and the first floor will be a corner coffee shop, a gourmet market and Grand Park’s preview center. Construction will take about one year.
“The Village at Grand Park will be the vibrant heart of the community, tying the surrounding neighborhoods together with winding trails and tree-lined sidewalks,” according to the Grand Park Web site.
Once completed The Village will include restaurants, shops and services that range from art galleries, specialty boutiques, day spas and salons to “hip” restaurants, “quaint” coffee shops and “lively” bars. Retail spaces also will reside on street level.
The Village will have 13 buildings.
“More commercial development is a great thing for this town,” Durbin said. The town’s aim is for retention and recruitment, he added, so it does not have to rely on tourism
The Village’s main street will house professional services, offices and the Rocky Mountain Lofts. Concerts also could be held at an outdoor theater. Plans are in the works for a bowling alley and movie theater, the Web site shows.
Lipscomb said the lumber the development has used is from Highland Lumber, and that 80 percent of their subcontractors were local.
Grand Park’s goal is to make a better community, he said. “One that has rec centers, good shopping, good restaurants, schools and health care,” he added.
“Our economy is a resort-driven economy. We need to create a resort experience that competes with all of the other major resorts in Colorado that draw more people here, more traffic here and more full-time residents. We are a long way from that today,” he said.
“I intend to make that long distance very short. I’m going to speed it up. But, in order to do that you need a town that has staffing availability … otherwise, you’re spinning wheels and going in circles.”