Monday, April 29, 2013

Parking dilemma looms in Breckenridge

Posted for Nancy Yearout
RE/MAX Properties of the  Summit, Breckenridge, Colorado

#Breckenridge, Colorado

 Parking has long been a point of contention for Breckenridge leaders and residents, and the planned development of at least three of the community's largest parking lots is pushing the issue again to the forefront of talks at town hall.

Officials and developers plan to replace all the parking lost when the two gondola parking lots and the skier satellite lot — also known as the overflow lot — on Airport Road are developed in the next few years.

The challenge, Breckenridge leaders say, will be in finding locations for thousands of replacement parking spaces without impacting the look and character of the town.

“It is a lot about parking and it's a lot about maintaining or improving our capacity relative to the parking of automobiles,” Mayor John Warner said. “We don't want these three and four-plus story parking structures like you see along the highway in Vail. Everybody on council thinks that's just too much mass for our community.”

Vail Resorts Development Company, the agency heading up the gondola-lot development, is proposing two three-story parking structures — each with one story below ground and two above — to offset the spaces that will be lost on the lots.

The gondola lots are slated for development in the next three to five years, which will mean building over 490 parking spaces in the north lot and 550 spaces in the south lot.

Council members talked last week to developers about the visual impacts of the parking structures on the downtown area and discussed potentially doing three smaller structures instead.

“Maintaining the character of Breckenridge is still our No. 1 goal and objective through the development of all these lots,” Warner said.

The north-side skier satellite lot poses a problem for town leaders as well, with the property tagged to become the site of a new affordable housing development in the next few years.

Officials will likely compensate for those parking spaces with a new lot on the McCain Property, but some council members worry about the visual impacts of that plan too.

“I'm getting frustrated with the way town looks, with cars parked on every vacant piece of land,” Councilman Ben Brewer said earlier this month.

At the heart of a similar debate are the F and Tiger Dredge lots, which town leaders have discussed converting into green space and additional lodging developments at the expense of two more town parking reservoirs.

The future uses of the two lots are still being determined.

While Breckenridge officials have said they will replace all of the parking lost if the lots were developed, they have not indicated where the new spaces would be located.

The issue of maintaining the town's parking reserves through the next phase of development will likely be a topic of conversation for the town council at their bi-annual retreat in early May.

“It's something we all need to look at on a bigger scale,” Breckenridge spokeswoman Kim Dykstra-DiLallo said. “It is a priority for us.”

The spring retreat is usually when the council hashes out top priorities for the town.

A second retreat held in the fall is dedicated to the next year's budget.

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Courtesy of the Summit Daily News.