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Deadwood HP Commission grants conditional approval for Chalets at DMG

December 14, 2018 GMT

DEADWOOD — The Deadwood Historic Preservation Commission granted preliminary, conditional approval for a proposed chalet development to be constructed on McGovern Hill adjacent to Deadwood Mountain Grand, with a projected opening date of 2020.

The project calls for three multi-unit condos, varying from six to seven stories in height, on property owned by the project applicant, TenTexKota, Inc. The three structures would house approximately 100 condo units, with buildings one and three featuring approximately 30 units, with a total footprint of 180-by-55-feet each, and building two featuring 50 condo units and footprint of 280-by-55-feet.


The project would also incorporate two inclined elevators and potential hotel ATV service, both to be designed with minimal disturbance to the hillside and vegetation as possible.

The commission first voted on whether the project encroached upon, damaged, or destroyed a historic property included in the national or state registers of historic places, based upon evidence presented in the staff report and staff’s opinion that the project adversely encroaches upon and damages the historic districts. The commission voted 4-3 that yes, the Chalets at Deadwood Mountain Grand project did, with Commissioners Michael Johnson, Tom Blair, and Dale Berg voting no.

Then, following procedure outlined in the staff report and based upon the guidance in the U.S. Department of the Interior standards for historic preservation, restoration, and rehabilitation projects and rules pursuant to state law, a separate vote was taken to either approve or deny the project and preliminary approval with conditions. The commission voted 5-2 to allow, with Commissioners Ann Ochse and Lyman Towes voting against project approval.

Prior to the vote, Deadwood Historic Preservation Officer Kevin Kuchenbecker explained that approval would allow the development to proceed through schematic design, design development, and consider other design alternatives that lessen the encroachment and damage of the Slime Plant.

“Basically, it allows them to move forward with the development of the project, but there would be several different reviews back and forth,” Kuchenbecker said.

Berg made the motion to grant conditional approval.

“Final preliminary approval does not guarantee final project approval, but it does allow the applicant to work with the commission to lessen the adverse effects and to create a mitigated plan, which may minimize future cumulative effects on the National Historic Landmark District,” said Berg.


Discussion on the matter was lengthy, lasting nearly one hour, with Kuchenbecker highlighting points from a 16-page staff report, project architect Brad Burns and Deadwood Mountain Grand managing partner Marc Oswald weighing in, as well as comments from the audience.

In his staff report, Kuchenbecker encouraged the applicant to reconsider one of the three units, as it adversely affected the Slime Plant, a historic resource.

“Two of the three structures have been obscured through design considerations by minimizing the scope of construction limits and maximizing the preservation of the vegetation,” Kuchenbecker said. “The third structure, closest to the Slime Plant, diminishes the characteristics of the historic districts.”

Burns handed out a new drawing of the three buildings that showed the concern had been addressed with a smaller scale third building minus two stories.

Kuchenbecker also suggested negotiating an effective mitigation strategy that would protect the balance of the hillside and could limit development on the balance of the parcel through a conservation easement.

Oswald said the group would be very interested in pursuing the possibility of such an easement.

Audience member Deb Davis spoke in favor of the project, saying it would be good for the continued growth of Deadwood and provide more jobs for youth to stay in the area and work.

“What an opportunity we have in front of us right now,” Davis said. “Here they are giving you guys this wonderful gift.”

Rick Oleson also spoke in favor of the project,

“These guys want to come into town, they want to do something right. You’ve got an opportunity for somebody who wants to spend a lot of money on something that’s going to be an improvement, and I understand the concerns about it,” Oleson said. “I don’t know all the details, but from my perspective as a business owner on Main Street, I don’t know that we need to squash it all together right now. Deadwood needs a shot, in the wintertime, especially.”

Commission Chairman Michael Johnson spoke in favor of the project.

“Look at the tax base for this – $30 million,” he added. “Plus the fact of, if someone can afford one of those units, they have some funds to spend in Deadwood.”

McGovern Hill resident Mark Hanson voiced concerns about the construction side of the project and given the fact that the applicant has stated they will minimize the impact to the hillside and neighboring homes during construction, wondered what the plan is. Hanson also raised concerns about the nighttime viewshed, adding that while the concern for daytime visibility of the units has been addressed, lights marring the view at night had not been considered.

Resident Georgeann Silvernail voiced concerns about how the project fits in with the city’s comprehensive plan, adopted by the commission earlier in the meeting. She read the passage on environs that make Deadwood unique and the cautionary language it contains.

“The steep hillsides surrounding Deadwood and floodplain traversing Deadwood, which are deterrents for development, are also assets that help preserve the natural setting that makes Deadwood so special and beautiful,” she said. “However, not all existing natural areas are exempt from the pressures of development, so Deadwood may want to consider identifying areas of significant natural beauty, particularly those which contribute to Deadwood’s historic view shed, that would be undesirable for development or significant landscape change.”

Toews raised concerns that the history of the Slime Plant is being lost and overshadowed by the project.

“We kind of sacrificed the building by putting an entertainment center inside, a bar, a hotel, and a garage to save the building,” Toews said. “We got something back for that investment, even though it was an encroachment. It had an adverse effect to the area by those developments. I look at this project and I ask, okay, is it going to distract from one of our buildings and totally and surely from our history. And our history is so damn important. Yeah, we can do this development some other place. We’ve got lots of places to do developments, but right in the center of our historic district?”

Commissioner Tom Blair asked for a timeframe on the project, and Oswald said design development will continue through the winter. Plans are to break ground in the spring to embark upon an 18-month simultaneous build of all the units.

“It will be a couple years before they open,” Oswald said.

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