County commissioners OK brewpub at Conference Center

-A A +A
By Beth Potter

A 100-seat brewpub/restaurant could open this summer in the former Evergreen Conference Center, after Jefferson County commissioners approved rezoning for the site.

Owners Anders and Debbie Ruikka plan to spend about $300,000 to remodel about 3,100 square feet of the existing 4,000-square-foot conference center space, Anders Ruikka said after the rezoning vote on Tuesday. The couple bought the 4-acre Evergreen Conference Center parcel at 27620 Fireweed Drive for $550,000 in 2013, according to Jeffco property records.

Neighbors who attended the commission meeting spoke 2-to-1 in favor of rezoning the site to allow a brewpub/restaurant. But a neighborhood petition against the brewpub/restaurant project was signed by about 40 residents, according to Dror J. Papir, an Evergreen orthodontist who spoke at the meeting. The Evergreen Christian Church congregation next door also opposes the project, said the Rev. Duncan Miller, the church's pastor.

“We stand in 100 percent solidarity with the neighbors,” Miller told the three Jeffco commissioners before they voted to rezone the property. “I ask the commissioners to make child and neighborhood safety your No. 1 priority. This does not belong in a residential neighborhood.”

Project opponents are worried about traffic and parking problems. Access is limited in case of emergency, many said. Fireweed and Iris drives provide the only access to the Conference Center.

However, the planned brewpub/restaurant — which will use the up to 80 existing parking spaces — would impact the surrounding area less than the previous use, several proponents said.

“I’m greatly in favor of economic development. In recent years, as we’ve gotten more restaurants and the winery, Evergreen has become a much nicer place,” said H.R. Chennel, a resident who lives nearby.

The Ruikkas are committed to historic preservation and live in a home on the property, Anders Ruikka said. The Conference Center was built in 1924 and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Conference Center is in the same complex as the Center/Stage Theatre building. It’s around the corner from the Evergreen Elks Lodge on Iris Drive east of Meadow Drive and north of Highway 74.


Senior housing at El Rancho approved

In other news, a 65,000-square-foot group-living building for seniors is expected to go up soon at 1055 El Rancho Road. As many as 96 residents could live at the senior group living facility, approved for a spot north of Home Depot.

The county commissioners approved special-use zoning for the building, which would be licensed by state authorities.

No one from the public spoke at the meeting about plans for the senior group living facility. Commissioner Donald Rosier, who voted in favor of the project, said seniors need more housing options.

“Having a 97-year-old great aunt and an 80-year-old father who is quite active, this is needed, and it should be supported,” Rosier said.