BRECKENRIDGE — Residents are bending elected leaders’ ears over the town’s plans for a new parking garage, as practically everyone seems to have some kind of opinion about what they’d like from the project.
“There are people saying, ‘Why aren’t you doing housing around it?’ ‘Make sure it doesn’t look bad.’ ‘Don’t make it look like a garage,’” said Breckenridge Mayor Eric Mamula as he relayed some of the comments he’s been hearing.
Apparently, someone told the mayor he should check out a parking garage in Santa Fe, New Mexico, because, as he recalled, the individual said it looks nothing like a parking structure.
“I think our charge is — that when we’re done with this thing — people will say, ‘Well, that’s a good-looking garage,” Mamula said with other council members in agreement.
The mayor said he thinks they “owe it to the community” to produce the most visually appealing structure they can while staying within budget.
During Tuesday’s workshop meeting, Breckenridge Town Council took a look at early designs for the town’s parking garage complete with graphic renderings and site plans showing potential architectural features and how the structure might function on the South Gondola Lot. Overall, council members said they liked what they saw.
The town is pushing forward with plans to build the structure on an existing surface parking lot owned by Breckenridge Ski Resort after working out a long-term lease with Vail Resorts, owner of Breckenridge Ski Resort.
The tallest pieces of the new parking garage would be its elevator and stair towers, and the structure would come with an ample number of restrooms, town staff said. The garage’s “bones” will be made of concrete, but other materials and design elements still are works in progress.
Because it is early in the design process, there aren’t enough details to nail down any cost figures for the structure just yet. Still, town staff is trying to pull this information together to help council members better gauge how their decisions might affect the final price tag, especially since the town aims to break ground next year and finish work by Nov. 1, 2021.
Overall, the current site plan calls for 255 surface parking spaces on the South Gondola Lot with a large structure housing 708 more for a grand total of 963 parking spaces — or a net gain of 413 spaces compared with what’s currently on the lot.
The parking structure would be two stories high on the east side by the Blue River and would have an additional partial level on the west side, so the structure would rise to three stories toward Park Avenue. The site plan, architectural designs and parking space counts are preliminary and could change as the project matures.
However, the preliminary site plan does include a new roundabout, which is expected to come in a subsequent phase of the project but would be one of the requirements for securing the Colorado Department of Transportation’s approval. The state transportation agency is a major piece of this project because the garage would be accessed via a state-controlled highway.
With that in mind, the primary concern right now has more to do with how drivers will get in and out of the parking structure than how the structure might look once built.
“There’s still a lot of work to do on the movement around (the parking structure), which is probably our biggest challenge,” town manager Rick Holman explained. “Actually, designing the structure has probably been the easy part so far.”
Walker Consultants is leading the design team, and town staff has formed a working group to address proposed site layout, circulation and establish an architectural character for the project.
The general opinion is that Breckenridge wants a good-looking parking structure, but the cost remains a major piece of the conversation, and it’s an element of the project that’s weighing on council members’ minds.
In other business, council approved entering a franchise agreement with ALLO, allowing the company to provide cable TV services in town, and council amended a development agreement regarding a hotel and condos project at the base of Peak 8 in Breckenridge, both on second reading.