Monday, December 04, 2006

Conceptual Plans for Breckenridge's Gondola Area

Town council members got an early look at conceptual plans for some of the last open land between Ski Hill Road and City Market, as ski area executives and planners outlined three different development concepts for the area around the new gondola terminal, and farther south, on what is now known as the Miners or Sawmill lot at a Nov. 28 work session.

Some of the land is owned by Vail Resorts and some of it by the town. Skier service facilities, including a ski school drop-off, food services and rental facilities will be the focus for the area closest to the gondola station, with residential resort development planned on the Miners/Sawmill lot.

Roger McCarthy, co-president of Vail Resorts' mountain division, and Mayor Ernie Blake said they envision a joint master planning process between the town and the resort, with a big focus on creating a connection between the new development and Breck's popular Main Street, as well as enhancing the Blue River and tying everything together with the planned expansion of the Riverwalk Center.

.The three scenarios were sketched out by Whistler-based Ecosign Mountain Resort Planners Ltd.

Concept A maintains the town's grid pattern of streets, providing vehicle and pedestrian access throughout the site. A path along the west side of the Blue River provides the link between the Riverwalk and the existing riverbank cycling trail. It would result in the loss of 760 parking spots. Building sizes would be most closely matched to the existing sizes.

Concept B, identified as "transitional," would include Main Street-style buildings on the east side of the Blue River to "tourist residential" development on the east side. Two additional levels of parking would be need at the Tailings lot to make up for the loss of about 830 spots.

Concept C is the "resort village idea, with more intensive "condohotel" developments increasing in scale and height moving west from the Blue River toward Park Avenue. It would result in the loss of about 690 spots, requiring 1.6 levels of new parking on the Tailings lot to make up the deficit.

Plan C was described as more of a resort-village development, along the lines of Copper Mountain or River Run at Keystone.

At this early stage, option B seemed to garner the most positive response from the town's elected officials.

McCarthy said plan B includes a diagonal component to ease access to the heart of downtown. Together with a "breadcrumb trail" of commercial and retail activity, that connection will help guide visitors between the resort base area and Main Street.

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