“We can build this.” In the current economic climate, one doesn’t often hear that type of optimism from a developer, but that’s what Brittania Pacific Properties’ Hector Caldera told The Sheet after presenting Mammoth View, a new take on an old property, to the Planning Commission on Wednesday, Aug. 25.
Caldera and Project [Company] Managing Partner Tom Cody showed off the new concept for the Main Street hotel and residential complex that will be bordered by Alpine Circle and Mountain Boulevard. The concept does require a 10-foot height variance (45 feet to 55 feet) to reconcile placement of the hotel against the existing grade, but the Planning Commission’s Design Review Panel reported it was “happy with the use of the site,” especially with the residential scheme. If anything, the only major comment so far is reworking some of the cabin-style structure planned to open up more snow storage space.
“We swept the table clean and started with a fresh approach,” Cody said. “We want an elegant use for the site, and stripped it back to its basic features.” Cody said that includes utilizing much of the existing trees and topography. “It’s similar in nature to Tamarack Lodge, in that it’s a place people can enjoy year round,” he went on to say. “It’s more of a ‘landscape project.’”
A previous concept for the site called for a much larger, boxier version of a hotel that Cody said carried a large footprint, and would have decimated most of the trees and required a lot of dirt moving. The new concept calls for a smaller, 54-room boutique type hotel with a footprint of only 15,000 square feet. Lot coverage was reduced considerably from 66% to 44%. (The site has expanded from 4.5 to 5.5 acres.)
*Editor’s note: And how many boutique hotels can boast of what amounts to on-site automotive repair!
The design would reuse any trees taken during construction and incorporate the materials into site features and other aesthetic uses. Geothermal heating and Leadership in Energy Efficiency Design (LEED) certification are other aspects of Mountain View’s proposed specifications.
Queried by Commission Chair Tony Barrett about whether Project has acquired the underlying water and mineral rights involved in the geothermal portion of the presentation, Cody said he has an attorney doing title work on that issue. Mineral rights are administered through the Bureau of Land Management, which has historically been tough on granting such rights to singular projects less than a certain acreage.
Barrett was also critical of what he perceived as a “gap” Mammoth View causes in the scheme of the proposed Main Street Development Plan. Chair Barrett cited a “lack of storefronts and retail business” that he thinks might indicate a break in animation and foot traffic.
Caldera told The Sheet he understands Barrett’s concerns, but thinks the “critical mass” of retail is up the road from Mammoth View. He did say that the restaurant and a related coffeehouse concept, which was also a topic of discussion, is still being worked out, but is envisioned as being foot-traffic oriented. “We don’t want to be a strictly drive-to destination,” Caldera said.
In public comment, John Vereuck voiced concerns about what he saw as a rather lopsided mix of cold and hot beds, stating that Transient Occupancy Tax is “our town’s income.” Condominiums and townhouses really don’t contribute much if anything, he indicated, and a paltry 54 hotel rooms probably won’t amount to much revenue generation either. Town Community Development Director Mark Wardlaw said, however, that the T.O.T. effects have yet to be analyzed, but added, “We do have motivation to see ‘hotter’ projects.”
Barrett also had problems with the project’s townhomes not being allowed in the rental pool, which he said could have negative downstream effects on the Town’s level of service. He also pointed out that Developer Impact Fees, T.O.T. and other revenues the Town could receive from the original project could take a substantial hit, with those dollars coming in roughly 20% lower than what the Town receives annually from the similar-in-scope Westin development.
One optimistic note came from an unusual source: Andy Ott, a vocal critic of many proposed developments, who apparently likes the flavor of Mammoth View’s Kool-Aid. Speaking with his “Viewpoint owner” hat on, Ott said, “This may come as something of a shock to some, but we admire [Mammoth View’s] use of the natural landscape … they’ve done a great job, and we [Viewpoint owners] welcome them as a neighbor.” Putting on his Mammoth Alliance of Property Owners Associations (MAPOA) hat, Ott augmented his support saying, “[MAPOA likes] the way the project is being approached. We just hope we don’t have to go through 56 meetings.”
“If a developer can build to [the Town’s] rules, and can make it attractive, I call that commendable,” Ott said, adding his take that the plan, with some minor modifications should be able to be worked out. He did, however, caution all concerned to utilize as much “clarity” as possible when it comes to height.
Wardlaw said the site comes with substantial “credits” for disposition of structures currently or formerly existing there. Royal Pines and Swiss Chalet are still functioning. Some older apartments, however, have already been taken down. Affordable/workforce housing requirements may not be an issue going forward, but that topic has yet to be resolved. The entitled “Swiss Chalet” scheme adopted in 2003 was extended until 2011.