What was once a small vacant lot — scrubby grass and a makeshift dog park — between Depot Avenue and South Davis Street, has transformed during the last few months, but the transformation is taking place beneath a low, nondescript tent. A beautiful butterfly — in the form of three high-end town homes — will emerge from its canvas chrysalis sometime in the spring of 2016.
The development, called Ironwood at Telluride, will be part of a line of similar but larger projects in Beaver Creek, Deer Valley, Steamboat Springs and Keystone. Each of the three adjacent units will have four bedrooms, four and a half bathrooms and various additional luxury features, including elevators encased in glass and surrounded by wraparound stairs.
Construction began in November and will continue until March or April 2016. For now, though, that construction is going down rather than up. Underneath the tent is a busy hive of workers as far as 20 feet below ground in a space inconceivably larger than what a former visitor to the small scrubby lot might imagine possible.
“It’s quite a bit bigger than it looks from the outside, shockingly big,” developer Jack Koson said. “The lower bedrooms are subterranean with big windows and spacious high ceilings.”
With height restrictions in place to prevent obstructing view corridors or diminishing the historic character of Telluride, many developers have dug in, adding more space below ground to satisfy potential buyers’ desire for more square footage than is possible above ground.
“Most of the new product here, even renovations, this is what they are doing: jacking the building up and putting space beneath,” Koson said.
Though Koson has spent the entirety of his professional career developing and living in ski towns, he said he’s found a home in Telluride, where he moved in November around the start of construction at Ironwood.
“I have worked or lived in all of the ski towns. I know them all: Aspen, Vail, Deer Valley, but [Telluride] is the best,” Koson said. “I always knew it had the beauty, and I always knew it had the great skiing and beautiful town, but I didn’t know how nice the people would be.
“This is the greatest ski town in North America,” he added.
In the process of digging the basements deep into the ground, construction crews at Ironwood have found some “little nuggets of history.” The location is along the old railroad route, and one of the most exciting finds for Koson was a large iron pot with old rusted rivets that he said they plan to use in landscaping at the development.
“You wouldn’t have thought all this had happened on this little tiny garden spot the size of a postage stamp,” added the realtor for the project, Sally Field.
Koson said he doesn’t have a problem with the height restrictions that force the development to dig below the ground or other similar limits on development.
“All of these mountain towns are very, very careful in what they allow and how they allow it. I don’t have a problem with it,” he said. “It’s protecting our heritage here. We don’t want this place screwed up, and the buying public gets a great experience because we’re careful about what we’re allowing.”
Jack Wesson Architects and Finbro Construction, both of Telluride, are handling the design and construction of the project, which should be completed in spring 2016.