No Limelight Snowmass in 2016 — or maybe ever | AspenTimes.com

No Limelight Snowmass in 2016 — or maybe ever

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

There will be no construction on the Limelight Snowmass hotel in 2016, despite the village's Town Council completing review of the Base Village application by an agreed-upon deadline Monday.

And Aspen Skiing Co. CEO Mike Kaplan called a 2017 start to the hotel a "maybe."

"Nobody is more frustrated or upset than I am," Kaplan said. "Both parties, the town and Related, have expended too much time and energy on alternative community purposes and what we perceive as an overly detailed review. (The process) has not provided the clarity we've needed."

He went on to say that the company had just gotten updated quotes on construction costs and that the prices had gone up exponentially.

“Both the developer and town have mishandled the review, and it has put the Limelight Snowmass at risk.”Mike KaplanCEO, Aspen Skiing Co.

"We've got to go out and reprice this thing and make sure that a 2017 start is possible and viable," Kaplan said.

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Skico has a letter of intent to purchase Lot 2 in Base Village from Related and build the hotel there, a deal that is contingent on final approval from the town, among other issues that Kaplan outlined at the meeting. That includes clarification on how a public plaza adjacent to the Limelight will operate, the timing of other buildings on the partially completed podium and details on Building 6, a community-purpose facility also adjacent to the Limelight site.

"We need to know what it's going to look and feel like outside our front door," Kaplan said. "Both the developer and town have mishandled the review, and it has put the Limelight Snowmass at risk."

Town Council members, who agreed this summer to attempt to complete the application's review by Dec. 21 so that new Base Village construction could start in 2016, were not happy to hear the announcement.

"There were commitments made that if we got to this point and we got to this tonight, we would have construction starting in 2016," Councilman Bob Sirkus said. "Skico is not showing the leadership I was hoping for."

Sirkus advocated for not taking a vote on second reading of an ordinance that would grant approval for the application, saying he didn't see a purpose without the incentive of construction in 2016.

But Related, back in the saddle as both the applicant and the Base Village developer after East West Partners backed out of purchase negotiations last week, pushed for a decision. Kaplan backed that up by saying that for a 2017 start, the company wanted to see all the agreements in place by March 31, and legally, the town only has 90 days after an approval to draw those up.

"We need approval tonight," Related's Andrew Dance said. "We don't think there are as many loose ends. … I think a vote of confidence to move this thing forward will give the ski company more confidence that this is something the town wants."

The ordinance required a supermajority, or four of the five members, to pass, and the council went back and forth over whether to take a vote Monday with some members clearly on the fence. Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk asked that the plaza agreement come back before council; Councilman Tom Goode pushed for a financial obligation from Related to account for additional height variances that were just added two weeks ago, which the developer agreed to to the tune of $200,000.

Ultimately, the council voted 4-1 in favor of the ordinance, with Sirkus dissenting.

While there will be no new commercial or residential construction in Base Village in 2016 now, Related will construct a roundabout on Brush Creek Road and another at the intersection of Carriage Way and Wood Road. It also will submit plans for Buildings 6, 7 and 8 with the expectation of breaking ground on those in 2017, as well.

jill@snowmasssun.com

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