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September 5, 2014
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Related willing to guarantee second building for Viceroy in Snowmass

Related Cos. is willing to provide the town of Snowmass Village a financial guarantee on completion of the second phase of the Viceroy hotel if that’s what it takes to convince elected officials there to extend its vesting on the stalled Base Village development.

That’s what Dwayne Romero, president of Related Colorado, told a group of residents and stakeholders Thursday at a community-outreach meeting in Bia Hoi, a Base Village restaurant. Related has agreed to provide the town with financial securities on public construction such as the roundabout and Wood Road improvements, but Romero has been adamantly opposed to any on the private buildings in past town meetings.

Some of those private buildings will now be constructed by other developers: Aspen Skiing Co. intends to build a hotel similar to the Limelight in Aspen, and Sunrise Co. and Oaktree Capital Management have signed a letter of intent to construct as many as 44 fractional and wholly-owned residences on another lot.

But Related is now willing to provide security on Building 13B, the second phase of the Viceroy, which it will still own and which did not break ground this summer as expected.

“We’re not doing that voluntarily,” Romero said Thursday. “We’re doing that based on the response and the feedback from the council, and we know we have to do that to regain trust.”

Related is currently applying to extend its vesting on the Base Village project, which will otherwise expire Nov. 3. Vesting protects the development from changes in town code that have occurred since the original Base Village approvals in 2004.

“Simply put, we’re asking for some stability of those rules,” Romero said. “There will be no additional investment in Base Village without some confidence that the rules will not change.”

That includes the investment on behalf of Skico, Sunrise Co. and Oaktree. Those companies have agreed to purchase and develop property in Base Village contingent on the town granting the vesting extension.

If the town does not grant vesting, all the current approvals on the project are still in place. However, losing Skico and Sunrise would cause the project to lose momentum, Romero said.

In the case of Base Village, the code changes the developers are trying to avoid include new affordable-housing mitigation and parking requirements. Romero expects the altered project to generate approximately the same number of employees, and so the company still believes that the originally negotiated amount of housing is appropriate.

“One thing I am sure of is it’s going to be additional time” if the vesting extension is not granted, Romero said.

Proposed changes coming up

Although Related has said it will submit an application for a major amendment to the overall Base Village planned-unit development on Oct. 15, it has already revealed many of the conceptual changes it wants to bring forth.

Two major changes are the plans Skico and Sunrise have. However, on Thursday, Romero told the crowd that Related is also in talks with Snowmass Discovery about including a facility for the nonprofit.

And the developer is considering moving the community facility, likely to remain an aquatic center of some sort as originally approved, closer to the core of Base Village. The planned-unit development says that center will be free of charge to guests and owners of Base Village residences and can be used by Snowmass residents for a fee that matches that at the town’s recreation center, Romero said.

Robert Sinko, general manager of The Crestwood condominiums, asked if relocating the facility would change who gets to use it. Moving it closer to the Skico hotel and residences and the Sunrise buildings would not favor those properties because the Base Village Metro District owns it, Romero said.

“The size and scope may actually change,” Romero said. “It may even actually improve.”

Some other ideas for Base Village amenities were discussed during three community sessions earlier this summer, and another facility could still be added elsewhere in the area, Romero said.

Skico involvement

The Limelight Hotel in Aspen generates close to 70 percent occupancy annually, and Skico expects the Snowmass lodge under the same flag will run close to 60 percent after four years, said Don Schuster, vice president of hospitality.

The Snowmass Village Planning Commission already reviewed Skico’s application for the Limelight several months ago. Skico withdrew that application in March but announced on Aug. 18 that it had inked an agreement with Related to purchase the lot.

In that application submitted last fall, Skico requested that the town allow it to provide one parking space for every two rooms. The company conducted a parking study at Viceroy Snowmass this winter, and the highest volume of guests parking cars in a given day was 33 percent, Schuster said.

Gary Mosiman, a second-home owner at Stonebridge Condominiums, asked how the increased development in Base Village will impact lift lines on the mountain. While there will be no additional chairlift development at Snowmass’ base, the lifts are built to handle more capacity than they currently do, said Rich Burkley, vice president of mountain operations.

Skico also has applied with the U.S. Forest Service to upgrade the High Alpine chairlift to a high-speed quad. And the company is in talks with the owners of Gwyn’s High Alpine restaurant to renovate the eatery at the same time that lift upgrade takes place, Schuster said Thursday.

“We have a bunch of plans,” Schuster said.

jbeathard@snowmasssun.com


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The Aspen Times Updated Sep 8, 2014 03:31PM Published Sep 10, 2014 03:25PM Copyright 2014 The Aspen Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.