The Silverthorne Planning Commission approved the preliminary site plan for a new hotel for the third time Tuesday, Aug. 2, initiating the process to construct the 147-room Element Hotel by Westin on Meraly Way.
Commissioners initially approved the preliminary plans back in 2018, which outlined a 101,201-square-foot hotel with 114 rooms. According to previous Summit Daily News reporting, after looking at the cost of building it above a new parking structure, the developers at the time decided it wasn’t financially viable and adjusted the designs.
The plan returned to the commission and to council in 2019, and although many of the building features remained in line with the first submittal, the changes were significant enough for the developers to revisit council with an updated preliminary site plan for the proposed hotel, then envisioned to house 119 rooms.
Now, after pandemic delays, another version was presented to commissioners that would include 147 rooms on a site area of just over 98,500 square feet. The hotel will be five stories, one story taller than the Hampton Inn next door to the west. To the north is the Summit Place Shopping Center and to the east is Anemone Trail Road and Solorado Townhomes. Denver Water owns the land to the south.
Commissioners initially had concerns about the developers’ proposed parking reduction (the current plan has 20 spots fewer than what the town code requires), but architects at the meeting said that there would naturally be less cars in their parking lot because most ski visitors to the county use shuttle services from the Denver airport. In addition to sharing some space of the Hampton Inn’s lot, the Element Hotel will have a two-level parking garage under the hotel.
Some commissioners were hesitant to approve the plan because of its location on Meraly Way. When Interstate 70 is rerouted through Silverthorne during Glenwood Canyon closures, commissioners cited heavy traffic and backups as safety concerns when adding more vehicles that need to get in and out of the hotel. However, because those are concerns for the town rather than the developers, commissioners approved the project.
“I think Meraly Lane is barely a road — it’s more of a parking lot access,” commissioner Val Connoly said. “It’s also extremely narrow, especially around Bamboo Garden. Cars coming around there a lot of times barely know you’re coming up. The other side has visibility issues. … I have a lot of hesitations about building a property with Meraly Lane being the entrance and the exit to the property and not having a second way out.”
Developers estimate that construction will last 20 to 22 months. Solorado Townhomes residents also expressed concerns about the build, citing that guests could potentially see into their homes, future construction could affect access to utilities and construction delays would just drag on any issues. Developers have told townhome owners that they may access the hotel’s amenities, such as the outdoor pool, once completed.
“At the last meeting, we approved a conversion of an existing hotel into long-term employee housing,” commissioner Leanne Shaw said. “That makes me question the need in Silverthorne for more hotels. However, as moratoriums on short-term rentals, I think, are going to increase and the caps will also get stricter, maybe we do need more hotel rooms to offset that, because we still want the tourism.”
Silverthorne Town Council will hear from the developers at its next meeting on Wednesday, Aug. 10.