Developers got initial approval from the city to develop a 6-acre vacant lot north of the Durango Mall into a new commercial business park.
A conceptual plan approved Tuesday by Durango City Council proposes putting four two-story buildings and dozens of parking spaces on the lot south of The Rusty Shovel Saloon and Durango Harley-Davidson. Each building would be at least 10,000 square feet, with commercial space on the first floor and offices on the second.
Developer Animas River Ventures LLC has not identified companies that might move into the business park. In an application to City Council, developers said it’s too early to determine tenants of each building and suggested the number of buildings or their configuration could change as businesses get involved.
About 1 acre of the property – the easternmost tract closest to the Animas River Trail – will be donated to the city of Durango as open space. The property, annexed into the city in 1992, is now covered with short grasses and shrubs.
City staff said the project meets the intent of Durango’s comprehensive development plan and would further provide protection for the Animas River Trail corridor. But legal counsel for the owners of the Durango Mall property have protested that the development would overburden the intersection with South Camino del Rio that the properties would share.
Attorneys for mall owners say Animas River Ventures has no legal authority to add commercial space and the inevitable traffic it would generate.
City staff suggest a “jug-handle” street to divert traffic and make the intersection safer.
A jug handle at the intersection would direct outgoing traffic, if drivers wanted to turn, to a smaller side road that meets Frontage Road to the north of the stoplight at Sawyer Drive.
Animas River Ventures suggested it would pay for the street improvements.
“The goal of these roadway improvements would be to improve the safety and functionality of the adjacent highway intersection and the traveling public as they access and circulate through the area,” according to a city staff report.
City Councilor Chris Bettin applauded the work of staff and developers to come up with the creative traffic solution and encouraged Durango Mall owners and their representatives to “look at the conditions relative to traffic safety.”
Developers must get two more approvals from City Council before construction can begin at the site.