Deadwood Mountain Grand expansion back on the drawing board?

October 13, 2018

DEADWOOD — A previously proposed chalet development originally pitched to the city by Deadwood Mountain Grand principals in October 2016 is back on the drawing board.

The city’s historic preservation commission heard the Grand’s latest plans Wednesday evening.

The hour-long discussion, held at the Deadwood Historic Preservation meeting, included a presentation from Brad Burns of Chamberlain Architects and input from Deadwood Mountain Grand managing partner Marc Oswald, as well as input from city officials and the public regarding the proposed Chalets at Deadwood Mountain Grand.

Deadwood Historic Preservation Officer Kevin Kuchenbecker prefaced the Chamberlain Architects presentation by clarifying that no action would be taken by the commission that evening.

“It’s discussion and discovery,” Kuchenbecker said. “They are looking for input. I would like to remind the commission that we’ll be following the guidelines and standards under the South Dakota administrative rules when it comes to new construction in historic districts and hopefully, there’s a healthy discussion.”

Burns addressed the commission, showing the previously proposed development project and the revised versions.

Previously proposed, were 36 buildings, including driveways (car traffic), garages, major site terracing and tree removal.

Burns said adjustments were made to address historic preservation concerns, including the scale of the buildings and how they impacted the McGovern Hill hillside.

“We were tasked with coming up with a way of placing appropriate buildings into the hillside, which is not an easy thing to do,” Burns said.

The site plan now includes 20 separate buildings measuring 40-feet wide by 30-feet deep with 20-feet between buildings, no garages, no public car access, ATV and pedestrian access on trails, no terracing/minimal tree removal, and leaving the historical railroad spur in the area unaffected.

“No garages, no public car access, and we will figure out a way to get people to them from Deadwood Mountain Grand,” Burns said.

Using droning and other technology, computer-generated graphics were shown of building placement based on topography and tree locations, designed to minimize tree removal.

Instead of the buildings being strung together across the hillside, they are now three- to four-story individual structures that will house more than one 1,200-square-foot unit, for a total of 96 units.

“We took everything away from the lower part of hillside and the lower edge and kept everything behind the railroad spur road … keeping a tree buffer from the front, all the way down,” Burns said.

Historic Preservation Commissioner Dale Berg asked how many trees would be disappearing off the hillside.

Burns referred back to the picture, counted the buildings that appeared over trees, which he earlier explained, would need to be eliminated, and estimated 30.

Historic Preservation Commissioner Ann Ochse said that number is likely not accurate, as construction digs up the earth and destroys trees.

“When you go in there with machines, trees are going to be destroyed and not just 30,” Ochse said. “That hillside is absolutely gorgeous and I would hate to see that ruined.”

Lynn Namminga, a Deadwood resident, asked if the units would be sold to indivduals.

Oswald said yes.

“They’ll be sold to private individuals and then go back into the hotel suite inventory,” Oswald said, adding that the owners would use them three weeks out of the year and they would go into a rental pool for the other 49 weeks.

Deadwood City Commissioner Sharon Martinisko pointed out that 20 feet between buildings is not a lot of buffer when excavating and asked how long the build out would be.

Burns said the equipment would likely be small and that the building would take one and one-half years.

Oswald said they would take contracts on 100 percent of them and build them all out at once.

“That’s the most efficient way to do it,” he said, adding that he is keeping a manual list of interested buyers and the list is rather extraordinary.

Asked about access to the site during the construction phase, Tim Conrad of Deadwood Mountain Grand said the main plan is to use Cemetery Street, with staging in his former lumber yard property.

With questions and concerns growing more and more specific, Kuchenbecker reminded the audience that the city commission would be answering more of the concerns that were being voiced, such as access.

“I don’t want to get too far into the weeds, when we don’t even know if it’s a project yet,” Kuchenbecker said.

“As a city commissioner, I can tell you that when it comes to post-approval of the project, if it becomes a project, our job then becomes to make sure that the impact on the people up on McGovern Hill is minimal,” said Commissioner Dave Ruth. “That’s where we come in and make sure, OK, here’s what it looks like, we’re going to dial it in as best we can with the contractors, with the property owners, with the people up there, so that the road’s improved, so that you guys aren’t impacted, so that if things are coming up, you know when and where they’re going to be there and there will be input opportunities for you, as well. Because we’re not just all of a sudden going to throw this in everybody’s lap.”

McGovern Hill residents in attendance raised concerns that no one has spoken to them about the project, concerns about access, and concerns about having enough water for the units, as residents up there sometimes have water shortages.

Ruth said that right now the project is conceptual and assured residents that they wouldn’t be overlooked, should there be further developments with the project.

Kuchenbecker then turned the discussion back to the commission.

“From a staff point of view, one of the challenges is, how do you build and keep the trees? We get a pretty picture and then when it’s done, we’re planting trees that are 10-feet tall instead of the ones that are 80-feet tall, whatever 60-feet tall now, and then, as this progresses, we’ll get into the details, the colors, materials, and I think you’re starting to see rooflines evolve, which are more traditional,” Kuchenbecker said. “What the commission is going to be looking at is the compatibility of the design, the massing, the size, the scale of the project, that it is compatible with the historic district, the height the width, the proportions of those buildings, the rhythm and scale, and what we’re not seeing now is the materials, the color, details and ornamentation. We’re starting to see some of the rooflines and shapes and then we’re also starting to look at the setting and the landscape and how it’s affected. So, there’s obviously, more details to come and this isn’t a formal application. We need to make sure that, as we go … is, there are going to be additional opportunities as this goes through the process, for city involvement, as far as access and those types of things. The (historic preservation) commission is going to be looking at how does it relate to the national historic district.”

Berg asked how the state historic preservation viewed the revisions to the project.

Kuchenbecker said the state said more refinement is still needed before they render an official opinion on it, but that they feel the architect is moving in the right direction.

“This is much more visually appealing than the other one,” said Historic Preservation Chairman Michael Johnson.

Historic Preservation Commissioner Lyman Toews said he appreciated the changes.

“The first one was hard to digest,” he said, later adding that his biggest concern is access for emergency access for emergency vehicles and that he is very sensitive about cutting hillsides.

“I don’t want to see a lot of big cuts.”

Burns attempted to gauge the level of support from a historic preservation perspective and Oswald said that the concerns of residents would certainly be part of the discussions.

Kuchenbecker said that while the project is moving in the right direction, there are several other pieces of the project to consider for that determination to be made, such as providing enough parking for the chalets.

Deadwood resident Mike Runge asked if the concept figured in utilities, water, and gas, as that plays an important part in where the buildings line up.

Burns said they hadn’t yet hired a civil engineer to do utility plans, as that is still further down the line.

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