Palmer House redev goes to planning body

       The Palmer House Redevelopment at Fillmore and Chestnut streets went to Planning Commission Thursday, Oct. 16 with an agreement that appears to resolve the proposed commercial center's future-related traffic issues.
       “Per the agreement [between the city and the developer], this site will contribute needed right of way for the Fillmore widening project (already approved and funded on the “A” list with the Rural Transportation Authority tax),” City Planner James Mayerl writes in his report to the commission. “Staff finds that with the right of way dedication and reservation the applicant has done as much as possible to mitigate the increase in traffic from the development.”
       The 14-acre center would be built mostly on the site of the former Palmer House Hotel, which was razed last December for that purpose. The owner is Crestone Development, doing business on the project as Bella Fortuna, LLC.
       Traffic had been the main sticking point when the proposal was initially submitted last April. The plans then had used existing street widths. However, the above-noted “A” list Fillmore widening project (scheduled in the year 2012) will require 10 feet along that side of the property.
       In the meantime, the developer will be allowed to construct temporary accesses (with the current width) at two allowed locations on Fillmore, at which a non- permanent road surface (asphalt instead of concrete) can be used and sidewalk does not have to go in, according to the above-noted agreement.
       The staff report to Planning Commission concedes that traffic will increase to some extent because of the project, but the current congestion is regional in nature and Bella Fortuna can only do so much to mitigate it.
       Another part of the agreement defines a plan in response to the envisioned Fillmore interchange replacement at I-25 (to be built sometime after 2020), which will need a significant slice along the southeast side of the property because of a westerly rerouting of Chestnut Street (as previously approved in a Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) Environmental Assess-ment).
       Until then, the Chestnut “reserved area” (as it's called in the agreement) will be left undeveloped, except as needed to handle drainage from the uphill parts of the site. When the interchange gets built, the agreement indicates that the city and CDOT will take responsibility for the drainage in conjunction with that project - thus making the reserved area available to become a road.
       Another part of the agreement defines the terms of a “comprehensive traffic study,” including the Fillmore/Chestnut intersection, which will be funded by the city with some help from Bella Fortuna.
       The city-developer agreement would also permit the developer to “vest” the project approval for 10 years because of an anticipated long-term build-out of the site.
       The application to Planning Commission seeks approval of a concept plan for the redevelopment and for a zone change to commercial on 1 ½ acres that are currently zoned industrial. City Planning recommends approval for both.
       If approved by Planning Commission, the zone change will also need to be approved by City Council.
       The project plans call for such uses as a hotel, a bank, a gas station, restaurants, offices and retail. A gas station at the corner of Fillmore and Chestnut is not part of the project, but is slated for purchase by the state when the interchange project occurs.

Westside Pioneer article