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January 1, 2013
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Public gives input on Base Village

SNOWMASS VILLAGE --A discussion about Base Village at a meeting of part-time residents turned much more candid than a similar one a week before at Town Council.

Residents asked questions and made frank comments following a presentation by Dwayne Romero, president of Related Colorado, at a public forum conducted by the Citizens for Snowmass and the Part-Time Residents Advisory Board on Dec. 26.

Romero gave almost the same presentation to Town Council on Dec. 17, updating the officials on the progress his company has made since acquiring Base Village in September. Romero also explained to both groups that completing building 13B, a second Viceroy Snowmass campus, will be one of the next steps, beginning with a minor planned-unit development amendment request to change the approved sizes of the units.

A question-and-answer session followed Romero's presentation. One resident stepped forward to ask if Related has any plans to create a downtown core, saying that Snowmass is divided into three separate commercial areas.

"I think you're raking up against some of the core questions for the last 30 or 40 years now," Romero said. "It is obviously challenging to think about the three, but we're not just going to be able to lift things up and make them merge either. My personal view is that there's always going to be a need for a healthy, vibrant neighborhood center ... that should be connected ... not just by car but by other means. Beyond that and my crystal ball gets really fuzzy."

Advisory board president Mel Blumenthal next asked about the larger vision for Base Village, and if Related would be referring back to the numbers originally calculated for how much residential and commercial space would be ideal.

"It is relevant to go back and examine those scorecards and the internal statistics and those metrics that you described," Romero said. "But it's also important not to be ... tethered unnecessarily to some of those old metrics."

Romero did say that he would like to work with a third-party firm that specializes in methodologies like that, but not just to determine the number of residential offerings but the type that the market will demand in the long term.

Jerry Goldston, who owns a condo in Base Village, came to the podium to say that he found Related's plan

too conservative.

"I guess I find this so depressing, actually," he said. "I had hoped that when Related rebought this thing, you had bought it at a low enough price that you could afford to take more risk. ... What you've laid out here is the most conservative business plan I could imagine."

Goldston added that it seems like Related does not have a vision of what Base Village is.

"We have to have the vision for what that's going to be, even though it may be premature for you guys to jump on it," Blumenthal said.

"I'm actually flattered with the description of a conservative business plan," Romero said. "This has got a certain pace and a certain tempo. ... It has to be sustained over time."

Blumenthal countered that that attitude is informed by the downturn in the economy.

"But that wasn't the mindset when (Aspen Skiing Co.) and then Intrawest came in," he said. "They had no market information. They did take a risk."

"Yeah they took a big risk, (and) what happened?" Romero replied. "We may be guilty as charged, hyper-conservative ... but it is a safe and in my opinion very wise place to be in."

Next up to the microphone was Johnny Boyd, of the transportation department, who also suggested uniting the three commercial nodes somehow.

"I'll trade you the center and the mall if you'll build me a town in Base Village," Boyd said. "The trinodal thing doesn't work. ... Now you own it all, so put an urban planner, bring someone in here who can tell us what this resort needs to be a success."

"It's like I said before, it's on the radar," Romero said. "My hunch is that there's probably a three-volume set of that discussion. ... We're not averse to any of those concepts or conversations."

Blumenthal also asked if the 2014 expiration of some of the vested rights in Base Village would be an issue. Those rights would have been automatically extended if certain aspects of the project had been completed.

"It's almost liberating," Romero said. "It can't happen. We can't get there. ... It's good. It means that we're going to have some quality conversations across all stakeholders."

The Part-Time Residents Advisory Board exists as a communication liaison between the town and second-home owners in Snowmass, who can't vote here. To view the presentation and Q-and-A in its entirety, visit www.tosv.com.

jbeathard@snowmasssun.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Jan 1, 2013 05:09PM Published Jan 1, 2013 05:07PM Copyright 2013 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.