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May 8, 2014
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Aspen Valley Foundation still intent on building Basalt retirement community

The Aspen Valley Foundation is regrouping after the resignation of its executive director, but its board of directors is still intent on building a retirement community that has been approved in Basalt, according to a spokesman.

Tom Griffiths, the treasurer on the foundation’s board of directors, said he and Richard Shaw, of Design Workshop, the lead member of the development team for the project, have started the process of contacting potential investors and answering inquiries from others.

“We’re going to gear up the search,” Griffiths said this week.

One possibility is finding a partner that would fund construction and manage the operations of the retirement community, he said. It’s also possible that different partners could be enlisted for those roles, he said.

The Basalt Town Council granted approval for the Continuing Care and Retirement Community on Nov. 11. The project will include 78 independent-living apartments and 18 independent-living cottages. A greater level of care will be provided in 30 assisted-living units and 24 skilled-nursing units. The units would be built in phase, as demand warrants.

Aspen Valley Foundation has a contract to purchase 18 acres of property near Basalt High School. That site is known as Stott’s Mill, both for an old sawmill operation that is still visible there and for a housing development of the same name that was approved at the site.

Briston Peterson, a partner in the entity that owns the site, said the Aspen Valley Foundation’s purchase of the property is still on track.

“They are fulfilling their contractual obligations,” he said.

Aspen Valley Foundation Executive Director Kris Marsh retired shortly after Basalt approved the retirement community. She helped find the site and guide the application through the land-use review.

“I would say that certainly wasn’t in our game plan,” Griffiths said of Marsh’s retirement. The regrouping that was required could ultimately delay construction of the project, Griffiths said. The original timeline called for groundbreaking on the project in 2015. That might not be realistic.

“That’s the biggest question,” Griffiths said. “The first domino must fall.”

That domino is finding a partner.

The retirement community is one of four major projects that have received final or partial approvals from the town of Basalt. The other projects are:

• A 113-room, limited-service hotel at Willits Town Center: The hotel received final approval from the Basalt Town Council in March. A representative of the developer said groundbreaking would be this spring. Basalt Planning Director Susan Philp said the town staff is “actively working on the documents and security they need for a building permit.” The hotel is anticipated to be part of the Elements by Westin brand.

• A river center and education headquarters for Roaring Fork Conservancy: The Basalt-based nonprofit has approvals for a 8,400-square-foot structure, but it is working on a revision to downsize it to about 5,500 square feet with the ability to phase in additional space when demand warrants, according to Executive Director Rick Lofaro. The site is by Old Pond Park, west of downtown on Two Rivers Road. A request is being prepared for the town government’s review, he said. Meanwhile, the conservancy is raising $2.5 million for the project. Utility work could start this fall, with building construction beginning in 2015.

• Rocky Mountain Institute’s Innovation Center and office building: The Basalt Town Council granted initial approval last month for a 15,610-square-foot building where the restaurant Taqueria el Nopal is located. An application is anticipated in June for final approval and a building permit may be sought in the fall, according to Philp.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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The Aspen Times Updated May 8, 2014 12:00AM Published May 10, 2014 07:43AM Copyright 2014 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.