The Palisade Board of Trustees opened the door for development of the historic Mountain Lion Fruit building near downtown Palisade at its meeting Tuesday evening.
Scott High, owner of Colterris Vineyards, plans to turn the structure, which was built in 1908, into a wine museum with an attached wine bar. High said he plans to preserve the historic architecture of the building, while adding on more than 5,000 square feet to use for the museum.
“This property is an iconic property in the town of Palisade,” High said. “I was very fortunate to work out a deal to buy this property about 18 months ago and our concept with this is to basically preserve all the architectural integrity of the original building that was built in 1908 and turn it into something the public will have access to.”
The museum, which is proposed as an addition on the west side of the building, would contain pieces from High’s personal collection of wine artifacts, which include hundreds of bottles, wine glasses, corkscrews, writing and tastevins (small saucers used to taste wine).
“I’ve started collecting a lot of wine-related historical objects from the time I was about 16 years old,” High said. “We have amassed a world class collection of wine-related historical objects that tell stories. We want to put those stories into those display cases and tell stories so people can learn about the world of wine, the history of wine.”
In addition to the museum, High said the north side of the building would be used as a kitchen and wine bar. The main part of the existing structure is proposed as a space to hold gatherings and events.
In order to make his vision for the museum work, High said the property, located on Third Street near downtown, would need an outdoor courtyard and access to the building on the east side of the property. The historic building sits on the eastern property line, he said. The town owns a right of way on that side of the property for a road, which High asked to be vacated.
“In order to make that property viable, to save the building for the town and to make it something we can all be proud of, we need the property in front of it and that’s the gist of what I’m trying to accomplish here tonight,” High said.
The application the trustees were considering proposed vacating 50 feet of the right of way, which would be landscaped and used as a patio for the proposed wine bar.
Town Attorney Jim Neu said the Planning Commission had determined the town would not need the full right of way. It will retain a 10-foot section for pedestrian right of way. Neu said the town would require High to apply for a building permit within a year and begin construction within two years in order for it to vacate its right of way.
“For us to give up the street we want to see the proposal occur on the owner’s property,” Neu said. “So the ordinance contains those business elements in section 4 where the right of way vacation is contingent on the owner applying for a building permit for his proposal.”
Several members of the public spoke in favor of the proposal including representatives of the Palisade Chamber of Commerce and the Colorado Association for Viticulture and Enology. The board noted that one neighbor had objected to the vacation of the right of way, but was unable to attend the meeting.
Members of the board made several positive comments about the project before voting unanimously to approve the ordinance vacating the right of way.
“Yeah I love the idea,” board member Jamie Somerville said. “I can’t wait for it. I think the only concern last time this came up was the intention of the property owner and what direction this was going to go and when. Otherwise everybody loves the idea and I’m satisfied with the direction.”