Home Hall grand Public split over Cooper Creek Village development in Winter Park

Public split over Cooper Creek Village development in Winter Park

The developers presented their final development plan to the City of Winter Park at the August 16 council meeting. The plan includes both open space and commercial space around Cooper Creek Square.
City of Winter Park/Courtesy Image

At the Winter Park Town Council meeting on August 16, trustees reviewed the final development plan for the Village of Cooper Creek and heard community members’ ideas for what the town might become.

Development of Cooper Creek Village is led by Charlie Johnson of JAC Colorado II, LLC and developer Jeff Vogel of Vogel & Associates. Vogel is a familiar face in Winter Park as a developer of projects such as the Rendezvous Center and the Roam Subdivision. Johnson, a resident of Winter Park, is the co-owner of Cooper Creek Square and helped build the city’s transit center. Cooper Creek Village is one facet of a $100 million development investment plan, inspired by the city’s Imagine Winter Park plan.

The development plan has been ongoing since 2021, with the last public hearings on August 9 and 16. Some community members expressed support, while others raised concerns. An additional public hearing is scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on September 6. Voting on the development will take place after the conclusion of the public hearings.

Development details

The Village of Cooper Creek would consist of two areas. The first 53-acre area is bordered on the south by US Forest Service land, on the north by the Idlewild Lane Subdivision, on the east by Beaver Village Condominiums, and on the west by Hideaway Village South. The second area of ​​6 acres includes 10 plots in town. Nine are north of City Hall and include the Cooper Creek Mall, the Clock Tower building, and associated parking lots; the other is located south of Vasquez Road, next to Winter Park Station. In total, the development would be nearly 60 acres, both in unincorporated Grand County (which would be annexed to the city) and within the city limits of Winter Park.

Lodginghotels and commercial premises

Johnson and Vogel plan to build a full-service hotel, as well as a variety of lodgings. Their final development plan includes a total of 875 housing units, 720 hotel units and 115,000 square feet of retail space.

The maximum height of the hotel would be 75 feet, or approximately 5-7 stories depending on construction. The height limit for single family homes is 40 feet, multi-family units are limited to 55 feet. As some homes border the Idlewild Lane housing estate, the developers will build a 30ft treed buffer.

A plan for affordable housing

Workers are needed to manage the development’s commercial spaces and provide services for the increased tourism that Cooper Creek Village will create. James Shockey, director of community development for the city, explained the four affordable housing options offered by the developers:

  • Developers could convert the existing Cooper Creek Mall buildings into 45 bedrooms, with 20 completed as a restricted deed after one year and the rest completed after six years. Dwellings would be deed restricted for 20 years once occupied, being reserved for those with an annual median income below 120%.
  • They could restrict 10% of all housing units in a part of their development. These units would likely be townhouses.
  • The hotel developer will provide labor accommodation or cash in lieu of 30% of the additional staff required to staff the hotel.
  • A residential real estate transfer assessment of 0.5% will be placed on any transfer of residential real estate into the development indefinitely. This is in addition to the transfer assessment that the city collects on real estate transactions in general. Funds from the assessment would be limited to the creation of affordable housing.

Open space and ski slope

The developers have dedicated 10.5% of the area to open space, which will primarily consist of a ski return trail, allowing for continuous downhill skiing from the resort to downtown. They will also develop a network of trails linking the state forest for cross-country skiing, hiking and biking.

Impact on wetlands

During public comments, residents expressed concerns about building over wetlands, which are a vital part of Colorado’s ecology. Wetlands protect the water quality of rivers and reduce the risk of flooding. Humans, animals, vegetation and microorganisms all depend on this resource. As with most developments in Winter Park, there are wetlands in the area.

Jurisdictional wetlands are protected by the Army Corps of Engineers; the developers stated that no structures would be built on these wetlands. The development area also includes non-jurisdictional wetlands, which are still vital to the ecosystem, but have the potential to be built on. Roads, utilities and trails are not considered to have a long-term negative impact, so they will pass through non-jurisdictional wetlands. Structures that developers might build on non-jurisdictional wetlands require 1:1 mitigation. This means that the developer must preserve or create wetlands in another area and protect that area from future development.

Gondola potential

For decades, Winter Park Resort and the city have discussed building a gondola to get from the resort to downtown. Connecting the two areas would create a convenient way for residents and visitors to move between the areas. The developers will dedicate a gondola easement near the transit center and support the project, but the responsibility for building the gondola rests with the city and the resort.

Public Comment

The final development plan for Cooper Creek Village generated strong feelings in the community.

Some community members support the development, including local business owners who would benefit from increased tourism. Proponents say the gondola will make it easier for visitors to stop at restaurants, shops and bars after a day on the slopes. The hotel will offer amenities like a conference center and spa, reducing reliance on short-term rentals. Proponents believe the development will create more jobs and housing, as well as recreational opportunities like the ski slope. Some feel that the ski slope and gondola would also reduce vehicle traffic.

“It has the potential to add a diversity of housing types and accommodation properties to the downtown core, which will produce a vibrant, walkable downtown,” resident Brian Cerkvenik said in a letter to the city. . “This will increase housing opportunities for employees and generate a perpetual revenue stream dedicated to housing new employees.”

Residents of Idlewild Lane feel that the proposed landscape buffer is not sufficient to separate their homes from future development.
City of Winter Park/Courtesy Image

On the other side of the coin, some residents fear that the creation of the gondola will ultimately fall to the city and the resort and doubt that it will become a reality. Limited parking would also complicate the construction of the gondola. Residents of Idlewild Lane fear the development is taking place in their backyards, increasing foot traffic while shrinking their open space. Others worry that potential overdevelopment could turn Grand into another Vail or Aspen, with crowded sidewalks lined with big-box stores. From an environmental perspective, some fear the development will shrink green spaces, threaten the delicate population of wildlife and deplete water resources as the western mega-drought looms.

Next steps

As one of the only mountain towns near the Front Range with growth potential, Winter Park’s development is likely inevitable.. During the meeting, residents asked the following questions: Can the development distinguish between providing access for recreation and protecting the environment that enables recreation? Can the development maintain a home for local businesses and community members who give Winter Park its small-town appeal, while providing accommodations and amenities for visitors?

As community member Randy Reaugh said at the meeting, “Let’s not let Winter Park turn into Summit County, or one of these other communities in the mountains where we see rampant growth and a place of living together.”

The city is working with the developers of Cooper Creek Village to ensure the process benefits both the developer and the community. The next step in this ongoing project is another public hearing, set for September 6 at City Hall, after which the proponents will have time to address the public. Community members can visit WPGov.com/our-government/agendas-minutes to learn more about the August 16 meeting, or register to join the September 6 meeting via Zoom once it becomes available.