A proposal for a six-story hotel and residential development at the entrance of Dillon is nearing its final hurdle, requiring only the authorization of the town council to go forward after being approved by the Planning and Zoning Commission in December.
The project — consisting of 83 hotel rooms, 23 residential units, a conference center and rooftop restaurant and lounge — is framed by the developer and town staff as part of a push to revitalize Dillon and draw more traffic into its core, which has struggled to retain and attract businesses for years.
The development, called the Crossroads at Lake Dillon, would stand at the corner of Highway 6 and Lake Dillon Drive on a high point overlooking the lake, replacing a gas station that has stood there since 1998.
"A lot of people don't even know where Dillon is," said Danny Eilts, who owns the gas station and started putting the proposal together four year ago. "The idea is to put something nice at the entrance and pull people down into Dillon."
The project is intended to cater to the high-end market and would include two penthouses on the upper level below the rooftop restaurant, which would be open to the public. Of the 23 residential units, three would be reserved for hotel employees.
KICKING UP DIRT
New construction in Dillon has been sluggish for decades. The last major project in the town-core area was the Dillon Commons building, completed nearly 20 years ago.
Crossroads would be part of a potential flurry of building activity along Lake Dillon Drive. The owner of the adjacent Adriano's Bistro Italian restaurant, Ivano Ottoborgo, has received approval for a 65-unit residential complex and street-level commercial spaces. (Ottoborgo and Eilts intially planned to do a joint project but have since decided to develop separately).
And this summer, work will begin on a major overhaul of the Dillon Amphitheatre, which is intended to boost the venue's capacity and attract bigger acts.
"Dillon is a sleeper in Summit County," Eilts said. "They just haven't had anything going on in a while. My feeling is this would be huge for the town and would put Dillon back on the map."
The town has enjoyed some recent development in the Dillon Ridge Road area, most notably with a new REI slated to open this spring. But that area of town is effectively a separate enclave, with Highway 6 separating it from the core area tucked away near the lakeshore.
The current town council has made developing that area one of its biggest priorities, commissioning several studies to game out ways to elevate the town's brand and attract investment.
"The council is motivated to support development, and I think the community is realizing that doing nothing was causing the town to fall behind," said Dillon spokeswoman Kerstin Anderson. "There's a recognition that something needs to happen in the core area."
Those efforts have at times faced resistance from some residents, particularly in the case of the amphitheater remodel. That project drew criticism for its scale and design, which some thought to be too modern.
Town staff and council members, however, have argued in meetings that simply doing nothing to stoke interest in the core area has caused it to languish.
During a public hearing for the Crossroads plan Tuesday night, some residents expressed concern over the height of the project, which at nearly 90 feet is more than double the 40 feet allowed under the town code.
Eilts is seeking an exemption, saying that he wants to take full advantage of the property's high vantage point and provide the best views of Lake Dillon and the surrounding mountains.
"I can understand the concerns, but it's time to put Dillon on the map," he said. "The views on top of the property, the highest point in town, will be incredible: Keystone, Breckenridge, the Tenmile Range, 360 degrees."
OUT WITH THE OLD
A vote on the resolution approving the project was pushed to the next meeting, on Feb. 21, because only four of the town's seven council members were present on Tuesday.
At the meeting, members expressed concerns over the proposal's allotment of parking spaces and have asked Eilts to look for ways to add more.
If the resolution is approved, Eilts would purchase the land adjacent to the gas station from the town, where two historic structures currently stand, although neither has an official historical designation.
The Old Dillon Town Hall, currently leased from the town by the High Country Conservation Center, would likely be demolished.
Sandie Mather, president of the Summit Historical Society, said the group was not interested in trying to save the building because it has been modified so many times that it only loosely resembles its original state.
The Rebekah Lodge, on the other hand, has changed only slightly since it was originally built in 1882 as Frisco's Graff Opera House. It was moved to Old Dillon in 1887 and again to its current location in 1961.
"It's 135 years old and has quite a history. It's the only opera house that I know of in the county," Mather said. "We have had very preliminary talks with Danny (Eilts) and he said he would very much like to see it preserved."
Saving the building would hinge on how expensive it would be to move it. Mather said she is currently working on getting a cost estimate and scouting for potential locations.