Firms to forge plans for S’mass entry | AspenTimes.com

Firms to forge plans for S’mass entry

Brent Gardner-Smith

Two local groups of design and construction firms are competing to develop the rodeo grounds parcel at the entrance to Snowmass Village.

Carey Shanks, Snowmass Village economic development director, said Tuesday the groups have been chosen to submit initial design concepts for a new entryway master plan at the corner of Brush Creek and Highline roads.

The town’s voters agreed last year to purchase the 20-acre parcel of land at the resort’s entrance for $4.95 million.

Now the town is mulling the best uses for the parcel, which has prompted a long list of current and potential uses, including the rodeo grounds, a town welcome center, open space and wetlands, a gas station, a nature center, affordable housing and some free-market development to help fund improvements.

“The Town’s Comprehensive Plan speaks to many opportunities for within the site, including higher densities and a lengthy list of desired community amenities,” states a document the town prepared to attract firms to the project. “At the same time, there is not clear consensus on this issue among Town Council.”

And so the town’s staff is looking for help in presenting viable plans to the council that accomplish some, most, or highly unlikely, all of the council’s goals.

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“The town is not in a position to know what should go on that site,” Shanks said. “And that is why we are going through this process, to have people help us envision the future of the entryway.”

The town will pay the two groups an initial fee of $10,000 each for the conceptual ideas.

The first group is led by the land planning firm of Stan Clauson Associates of Aspen, whose partners include Coburn Development of Boulder, Economic and Planning Systems of Denver, and Intermountain Aquatics of Driggs, Idaho.

“The entry is extremely important,” said Clauson, who lives in Snowmass Village and was the city of Aspen planning director from 1994 to 1998. “It is important both in terms of how it welcomes visitors and how it greets locals day after day.”

Clauson’s firm recently completed a design for the entryways into Montrose and won a recent design competition for an affordable housing project – now stalled – at Aspen Mass near the intersection of Brush Creek Road and Highway 82.

Coburn Development is a design/build firm specializing in neighborhood planning, historical renovation and urban infill projects. Its recent projects include the Steelyards project in Boulder and a residential development project in Crested Butte called Pitchfork.

The second consortium is made up of The Weitz Co. and Centex Destination Properties.

Weitz is the 31st largest general building contractor in the nation and was expected to generate nearly $800 million in revenues in 2001. Two years ago Weitz acquired Norris Associates of Glenwood Springs, and the firm is now listed in the phone book as “Weitz-Norris.”

The commercial construction division of Norris is now called Weitz, and its custom home division is called Norris Homes.

Norris has been involved with several projects in Snowmass Village, including the Timbers Club, the Daly Townhomes affordable housing project, and the Snowmass Land Co. headquarters at Two Creeks.

Centex Destination Properties is the resort division of Centex Corp., one of the 10 biggest home builders in the nation, and has an office in Avon.

The design and construction firms will be given about three months to come up with conceptual plans for the entryway, and they are expected to put forward plans that sort through the competing potential uses for the property, including a free-market component to help finance various improvements.

“We understand that all the different ideas for the site have a real cost,” Shanks said. “And as the town has finite dollars to contribute, we want to at least have the experts in the field chime in on how we might be real creative to get it done.”

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