Left Hand Valley Courier - All Local, All The Time

Developer unveils preliminary plans for former Colterra property


February 5, 2020 | View PDF

Courtesy Image

The Franklin Street view of the Palmos Development Corporation's initial plans for developing the property at the corner of 2nd Avenue.

A proposed development on the former Colterra property at 210 Franklin St. in Niwot will include up to five residential units, plus a commercial "food/beverage" establishment in the historic Bader House, according to preliminary drawings unveiled by the new owners at a neighborhood meeting at the Left Hand Grange on Wednesday, Jan. 29.

In a first-of-its kind engagement required by new land use regulations, Terry Palmos of Palmos Development Corporation [PDC] addressed an assemblage of nearly 50 residents and business owners about his company's upcoming plans to "re-energize" the corner lot last occupied by the now-shuttered Colterra restaurant.

"We think Niwot is one of the special places in the county," he said of his Boulder-based real estate firm, founded by his father in the 1960s. "When the Bader House and 210 Franklin became available, we jumped on it... I've known Bradford [Heap] from Colterra for years, and we're here, in a nutshell, to try to revive the corner and do some nice things for downtown."

PDC purchased the property at the corner of 2nd Ave. and Franklin St. in September 2019, with the aim of bringing a mixed-use project to the lot, and hopes to submit an application for Site Plan Review to the county's Community Planning and Permitting Department later this year. It will be the first project subject to county scrutiny since revisions to the land use code were adopted in April 2019, following a seven-month development moratorium in Niwot.

Palmos' proposal, which is still in the conceptual stages, includes upgrades at the Bader House, notably a 400-square foot addition to the northeast side that is slated to become "some type of kitchen" for a commercial "food and beverage" business. This will replace the brown barn that housed Colterra's kitchen, and now faces demolition.

As for what future "food and beverage" use might go into the space, Palmos hesitated to specify, citing too many unknowns at this stage, but offered that it wasn't likely to be a "full-service" restaurant.

"It may be a wine bar. There's a myriad of things in the food and beverage industry that it could be," he said.

The plans also call for renovations to the interior of the Bader House; the exterior, however, will remain unchanged, per the conditions of its historic designation. The trees, landscape, and wrap-around flagstone patio will also remain unchanged, though the latter will continue to service outdoor dining, according to Palmos.

To the north of the Bader House, separated by a walkway, Palmos is proposing a two-story building that will house five residential units-four 550 square-foot "studio-style" apartments on one half, and a 1,200 square-foot three-bedroom "townhouse" style residence on the other, along Franklin Street. Each of the units has two balconies on the front and back, providing "a lot of outdoor living space."

Parking for future tenants will be serviced by single-story garages lining the alley in the rear, providing six spaces. Street parking around the lot will remain open to the public.

Palmos noted that the design specifications comply with the new land use regulations, "as far as height, setbacks, and all those types of things," including his portion of the alley, which will have to be upgraded to standards released by the county transportation department last fall.

"The thing about the new code is, though, nobody's gone through the process before, so we're the guinea pigs...We'll be the first to go in and see how it all shakes out."

As for the exterior elements of the future residential site, the design features a pitched roof and siding with a red and yellow color scheme, including brick and other materials. Palmos said their goal was "to blend in" with the neighboring buildings, the Bader House and the Lockwood Building (198 2nd Ave.) in particular.

Palmos said the company has not decided whether it will lease or sell the new units, though their small size will make them "affordable" either way. Palmos did emphasize that the company has no plans to turn around and sell the property to another developer in hopes of turning a quick profit.

"This isn't something we're looking to get in and out of," he said. "I want to be a part of Niwot, and I want to do something special here."

Palmos then invited questions and feedback from the crowd, and the initial reviews were skeptical about the preponderance of residential space in the plans. Many commenters, such as 3rd Avenue residents Catherine McCall and Satir DeMarco, suggested two or three retail stalls along Franklin Street, for galleries or other art spaces, and many others suggested a grander destiny for the future "food and beverage" establishment.

"Through all the fights and the moratorium, there was a big speech about the need for a 'vibrant commercial district' in old town Niwot, and I completely agree," McCall said. "But, I don't see how you add to that by building five condos."

Palmos agreed with DeMarco and McCall in spirit, but defended the plans by saying that "commercial follows residential," and, noting the multiple vacancies currently dotting Niwot's business districts, said that "adding more commercial to a market that can't sustain the commercial it has now" doesn't make sense.

Then, responding to McCall's subsequent question about putting in another "higher-end" restaurant, he pointed to challenges in the food and beverage industry as a whole.

"I don't want to set up anyone's expectations that this will be a mini-Colterra, because that kitchen was a big kitchen," he said, noting that his company's tenants include about two-dozen restaurants, "Full-service restaurants are struggling in a major, major way, and many are closing. Smaller restaurants are easier to run and more profitable."

Commentors found Palmos in agreement with concerns over the "modernist" elements in the architecture, which one said was too reminiscent of 28th and 30th Streets in Boulder. Many said it lacked the "charming" elements of other buildings downtown, and there was also an objection to the large rear windows.

The discussion ended on a more collegial note, as Palmos agreed they would reconsider adding commercial space to the Franklin Street side of the new building, as that seemed to be the prevailing opinion. He also agreed that the architecture would be "softened" in the final plans, to be more in accordance with local aesthetics.

"I appreciate the turnout," he said. "I didn't know what to expect tonight, and I got a lot of good information. We're all going to be here together, and I want it to be good and feel like it's the right thing for Niwot."

However, it will be a few months before those potential revisions see their way into the PDC proposal, and even longer than that before any construction can begin. The group faces two additional review meetings in the pre-application process (with the county's Historic Preservation Advisory Board and the Niwot Design Review Committee), and will wait for feedback from them to implement the final changes. They hope to submit their complete Site Plan Review application to the county in late spring or early summer, and that process will also take several months.

Meanwhile, Palmos urged anyone with questions or additional feedback to visit the offices of the Palmos Development Corporation. at 2774 Iris Ave. in Boulder.


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