Written by: Pat Ferrier

Developers of a boutique hotel in Old Town Fort Collins hope to have all city approvals in place by mid-September so construction can start in January and the hotel can open in early 2017.

Bohemian Cos., which owns 2 acres at 354 Walnut St., and 363 Jefferson St., on which the hotel and parking will be built, submitted its project development plan to the city Wednesday. Bohemian is partnering with McWHINNEY, of Loveland, which will serve as the developer, and Sage Hospitality of Denver, which will operate the 162-room hotel.

Preliminary designs show a five-story hotel with accompanying restaurants and retail and two proposed parking plans: a three-story, 300-space public/private parking garage with retail space or a surface lot for guest parking only.

The city wants to share the costs of a parking garage to help alleviate downtown parking problems. If the two can’t agree, developers will build a 100-space lot on Jefferson Street.

Discussions are ongoing about a financing agreement and total number of parking spaces, but the “intent is to do a shared parking structure in lieu of a surface lot — there are efficiencies and economies to doing that,” said Deputy City Manager Jeff Mihelich. “I don’t see anything standing in the way.”

A third downtown parking garage with 200 public spaces won’t solve the city’s parking woes “but it will be a huge step in the right direction,” he said.

The hotel’s architecture has not been finalized, according to plans, but drawings show a five-story building of brick, glass and metal constructed in earth tones that steps back on the top floor to match downtown’s existing architecture. The form of the proposed hotel has been shaped by a “desire to respect the existing massing of the national historic district along Walnut Street from Linden Street to the hotel, and by the scale and mass of the Mitchell building across Walnut Street,” according to plans.

The Mitchell building houses Bohemian Cos. and its nonprofit sister, the Bohemian Foundation.

The two buildings “will create a gateway to Old Town from Mountain Avenue,” the plans state.

The project and parking areas are split by Old Firehouse Alley, which developers plan to enhance by lining it with retail and restaurant/lounge space. “By creating active spaces in the alley, the energy of the downtown users can be distributed in more directions than the traditional two sides of a downtown street corner project,” according to plans.

The corner of Walnut and Chestnut streets is proposed as a plaza with a grove of shade trees and retail spaces. “We hope our development can in a sense become the ‘living room’ of downtown where travelers and locals come to enjoy the many benefits of Old Town.”

Designs for the new hotel are still being developed, but early indications show a five-story structure with the main entrance and lobby on Chestnut Street. The building would also include about 3,100 square feet of retail space on the first floor, 3,000 square feet of meeting and ballroom space, a 3,100-square-foot restaurant and 1,500-square-foot rooftop bar.