Residents expressed concerns about the displacement of 12 businesses, traffic along Camino del Rio and the loss of views at a meeting Wednesday about a proposed hotel on Camino del Rio.
A proposed three-story building, with an underground parking garage, could replace the building now at 1111 Camino del Rio if plans are approved by city boards. The hotel is in the early stages of review, and the hotel firm behind the proposal has not been revealed.
The Design Review Board did not vote on the proposal Wednesday. Instead, the group asked Jerry Campbell with Central Design Group to come back with an adjusted design that would hide the two upper stories from people on the Animas River Trail.
To a pedestrian on the River Trail, the hotel would look like it is four stories because of the parking garage.
“I don’t want to look up and see four or five stories,” Board Member Tom Caver said.
In addition to the building, the hotel plans to build an extension from Iris Park Bridge to the hotel, patio space that will face the river and access to Natural Grocers.
The city also asked Campbell to consider more public art pieces and a low wall to separate an extension of the Animas River Trail from drivers coming down the hill from Camino del Rio.
The developer already adjusted the design of the building to break up large blank walls on the building. This included a steel cutout of trees along the Camino del Rio side of the building. The board praised the changes.
The hotel design will help set the standard for redevelopment along Camino del Rio, board members said.
Several audience members opposed changes the hotel could bring.
The potential loss of the Rock Lounge, a current tenant, concerned Georgia Witchel, 15, a student at Durango High School, who highlighted the importance of the business to teens who train there.
“I know 50 kids that would be willing to sit down in front of machines,” to block the hotel, she said.
The tenants of the existing building are free to look for new spaces, but the owner of the building John Bregar acknowledged that might be tough.
The owner of the Rock Lounge, Marcus Garcia, is looking to build a new building or move into a new one, he said, in an email.
This hotel, so close to downtown, could also take away from the town’s charm, block views, and busy traffic on Camino del Rio would likely present a daunting barrier for those staying at the hotel, residents said.
“I am concerned about how this hotel’s guests would get across Camino del Rio,” Ross Worely said.
The hotel will be required to complete a traffic study as part of it’s construction, and a median might be required to help manage traffic.