pasture

An undeveloped pasture north of the Glenwood Springs Mall on Monday. Although the final decision will fall with the city of Glenwood Springs, not the county, many neighbors voiced their trepidation about R2 Partners’ development proposal to Garfield County Commissioners during their Monday meeting.

Several West Glenwood residents told Garfield County Commissioners Monday that they didn’t want to see hundreds of residential units go up on nearby pasture land.

R2 Partners, a real estate development firm with offices in Aspen and Cincinnati, Ohio, has proposed building 279 multi-family apartments, 40 townhomes for sale and 13 live-work units on a nearly 16-acre property near the Glenwood Springs Mall in West Glenwood. The development would also include a 10,000-square-foot clubhouse equipped with a restaurant/pub.

“We’ve been working with [the city of Glenwood Springs] now for over a year. The original plan was actually 415 units,” Barry Rosenberg, R2 Partners principal, said in an interview following Monday’s BOCC meeting. “We’ve continually been massaging it. … If you look at these adjustments, I think that they’re in response to some of the things that we’ve heard.”

Nearby residents have expressed concerns about the project’s density as well as the brittle state of nearby roads like Mel Ray to the east, Storm King to the west and Donegan Road to the north.

Michael Hoban, who has lived in West Glenwood for the last 35 years, thought the area had enough traffic already and was worried such a development would diminish what was left of the area’s small-town acharacter. 

“The city says that safety — our welfare and our well-being — are their top priorities, besides the small-town character, which I think disappeared some years back,” Hoban said during Monday’s BOCC meeting. “We just are overwhelmed even at the thought of development in this nature.”

While the commissioners agreed with many of their constituents’ concerns about R2 Partners’ proposal, they also made clear that they had very little say in the matter. 

As part of the development plan, the nearly 16-acre property in unincorporated Garfield County would be annexed into Glenwood Springs and, in accordance with state statute, municipalities must prepare an annexation impact report to be filed with the board of county commissioners. 

However, other than to provide comments to the city of Glenwood Springs about the annexation, commissioners have little to no authority concerning the development proposal itself. 

“I have not put … any time or any thought into this project,” Commissioner Tom Jankovsky said. “From my perspective as commissioner ... it’s not going to fall on my lap and I haven’t studied it.”

According to Glenwood Springs Public Information Officer Bryana Starbuck, the annexation request will go before the Glenwood Springs City Council on July 29. The Glenwood Springs Planning and Zoning Commission recommended denial of the annexation request on May 25.

“The city reviews and considers information as it is presented to us,” Starbuck said in an email. “To be clear, the city is currently processing the annexation proposal, and any proposal for the mall would have to go through a separate process.”

It was also announced Wednesday that R2 Partners is under contract to purchase the Glenwood Springs Mall from its current owner, Frank Woods.

“We are pleased to be working with Frank Woods on this transaction, and we look forward to working with the city and local community on a master plan creating synergies between redevelopment opportunities at the Mall and the proposed residential neighborhood in West Glenwood Springs,” Rosenberg said in a separate news release.

The Glenwood Springs Mall has caught the attention of numerous developers over the years but to little avail. Earlier this year, Woods was also in communication with Kensington Development Partners, based out of Illinois, concerning the property — and prior to that, with a development firm in Arizona. Neither communication turned into a deal.

“I gotta be totally honest with you, I’m thankful that I’m not making the last decision on this one,” Garfield County Commissioner Mike Samson said of the development proposal for West Glenwood. “I would implore the city of Glenwood [Springs] to really study this one.”

Matthew Bennett is a reporter for the Aspen Daily News. He can be reached at: matthew@aspendailynews.com