Thursday, October 16, 2008

Inspiritu Verde - Green Development In Steamboat Springs

Council narrowly supports Inspiritu Verde
Vote gives go-ahead to development at Fourth and Oak streets
By Brandon Gee (Contact) - Steamboagt Pilot & TODAY reporter
Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Steamboat Springs — The Steamboat Springs City Council moved forward — albeit hesitantly — Tuesday with three items related to sustainable building practices.

For John Buchanan, a close vote in favor of his proposed development at Fourth and Oak streets brought a fitting end to what was described at Tuesday’s council meeting as a lengthy and trying review process for the Denver architect and developer. Buchanan entered the city planning process in July 2007.

The project, Inspiritu Verde, was granted seven variances from the Community Development Code in exchange for its promised benefits. The project’s name fittingly translates to “inspired green,” as it proposes to be the city’s first project to earn a “gold” Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, or LEED, certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. It also includes a voluntary affordable housing unit and storm water and sidewalk improvements in the public right-of-way.

Comments from the public were mixed between supportive and critical, with most arguments against the project focusing on its mass and scale. The project consists of two new buildings that would replace two yellow, stucco 1949 duplexes. Buchanan requested a five-foot increase in the buildings’ average plate height, encroachment on three of the 7,000-square-foot lot’s building setback requirements and a 34 percent increase in the allowable ratio of floor space to lot area.

The formula used to calculate the ratio calculated Inspiritu Verde’s square footage at 4,711, but city planner Bob Keenan confirmed that number does not include reductions for garage space, basements and bonuses for the development’s proposed employee housing units. Without those reductions, Keenan said, the square footage is about 9,100 square feet in size.

For Councilwoman Meg Bentley and Councilman Jon Quinn, the project was too large to swallow.

“I think the design is fantastic; I love it,” Bentley said. “I wish it wasn’t in Old Town or that it was in a different part of Old Town. … I think it’s fantastic, but I can’t” support it.

Others were willing to compromise.

“I think this is a courageous project,” Councilman Scott Myller said. “I’m ready to go for it.”

City Council President Loui Antonucci, who said he was torn on whether to support the project, said the decision boiled down to a choice between moving the community more toward green building practices or sticking “with traditional design which is what Old Town stands for.”

The project passed, 4-2, with Antonucci, Myller, Councilwoman Cari Hermac­inski and Councilman Walter Magill voting in favor of the project, Quinn and Bentley voting against it and Councilman Steve Ivancie stepping down because of a professional connection to the project.