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August 7, 2014
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Aspen Skiing back in talks about Snowmass Base Village property

Aspen Skiing Co. is once again in talks with Related Colorado about purchasing a lot in Snowmass Base Village.

That’s what Don Schuster, Skico vice president of hospitality, told the Snowmass Village Planning Commission at its meeting Wednesday.

The board was reviewing Related’s application to extend its vested development rights in Base Village, which are set to expire Nov. 3. Schuster said approval of the application was “paramount” to Skico’s interests.

“It’s important to us,” Schuster said. “I just wanted to provide that as a comment.”

The comment came during a conversation about what would happen if the town waited to extend vesting until Related submits its vision for physical changes to the project, part of an application for a major amendment to the Base Village approvals that the company has promised to deliver by Oct. 15.

“Is there anything to be gained or anything to be lost by waiting until Oct. 15?” asked Planning Commission member Doug Faurer.

The extension of vesting is essential to Base Village investors, said Related Colorado President Dwayne Romero. That’s partly because certain details of the project, such as the required amount of employee housing to be built, would change without vesting because the town’s code has been updated since the initial Base Village approvals in 2004.

“In our view about what’s best for the community, ... we think it’s helpful to nail down as many variables as possible,” he added.

Related is asking for the extension in exchange for 22 milestones, Romero said. If those milestones — which include certain public improvements and deadlines for submitting plans for and completing buildings — are met, Related will receive an automatic extension of vesting.

“We offered that,” Romero said. “I don’t know how else to proceed.”

Community Development Director Julie Ann Woods told the board that her department was not recommending to wait for the major amendment application to approve vesting.

Schuster declined to comment on whether Skico was still interested in building a hotel on the lot or what it hoped to develop there. Skico showed plans and completed much of the review process to build a lodge similar to the Limelight Hotel in Aspen on Lot 2. However, it backed out of negotiations to purchase the lot in March, saying there was too much uncertainty surrounding the development.

“With the uncertainty surrounding the entitlements and vesting and those kinds of things, we were concerned we wouldn’t be able to start on time, finish on time, finish and get a certificate of occupancy, be able to sell the condominiums and room nights,” Schuster told the Town Council at the time.

Other recommendations

The Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve a resolution recommending that the council approve Related’s application, with certain other suggestions, as well. Most of those were decided at its July 23 meeting, but a few topics were revisited Wednesday.

One of those was the question of whether the town should require some sort of financial security, maybe in the form of a bond, to ensure completion of the private buildings in Base Village. Related has said that it will provide the town with security on the public improvements it is required to build, including a roundabout at Wood and Brush Creek roads and the overlay on the upper section of Wood Road, as soon as the vesting extension is approved.

However, on July 23, Romero said it would not be open to doing the same on the private buildings, and the commission was not going to include that in its resolution.

“I’ve given that some thought,” Sirkus said. “I’m thinking that we, in our recommendations, should bring that back on the table for further discussion.”

There was some debate between Sirkus and Related representatives about how that would work. Commissioner Jim Gustafson asked Woods what she thought would be appropriate.

“I can’t address private improvements — I’ve never seen it before, quite honestly,” Woods said.

In the end, the commission did add to its resolution that the council should consider options for financial security on completion of the private buildings.

jbeathard@snowmasssun.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Aug 12, 2014 11:49AM Published Aug 8, 2014 11:48AM Copyright 2014 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.