Skico cancels plans to build Limelight in Snowmass
March 11, 2014
Aspen Skiing Co. announced Monday that it has canceled its plans to build a 102-room hotel in Snowmass Base Village.
Skico was seeking to purchase a lot there and build a hotel similar to the Limelight in Aspen. After progressing rapidly through the Snowmass Village Planning Commission's review of their application, Skico representatives said that there was too much "uncertainty" surrounding the project to move forward.
"We always knew we were on a tight timeline and tight risk threshold," said Mike Kaplan, CEO of Skico, at Monday's Town Council meeting. "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."
Skico also would have constructed an approved condo building, with a Four Mountain Sports location encompassing the ground floor. It was proposing not to build the other three buildings and instead create an open space where events could be held.
The vesting rights belong to Related Colorado, which owns Base Village through its subsidiary Snowmass Acquisition Co. Related currently is applying to extend those rights, which expire in November. The council on Feb. 18 upheld a determination that Related's application was a major amendment, based on the addition of certain requests such as changes to the approved phasing schedule for the overall project.
The purpose of changing the phasing was to facilitate the construction of the Limelight before other approved buildings in Base Village. The application also includes a timeline for construction of a roundabout at Wood and Brush Creek roads, which would have to be complete for the Limelight to be allowed to open.
"We have to pull the trigger on a lot of drawing, ordering steel, all those things and without knowing for sure that those things (the roundabout and the vested rights) are going to be accomplished on time, we were threatened to push back our start time, which then adds all kinds of uncertainty around bids and costs," Kaplan said. "You sort of have to start fresh from that standpoint."
Don Schuster, Skico vice president of hospitality development, added that the certificate of occupancy is tied to the current phasing schedule.
"As we've said all along, we need to make sure we can get a certificate of occupancy upon completion," Schuster said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. "We also both (Related and Skico) needed to get our approvals to know what was going to happen in the future, and that's probably the bigger concern for us."
For example, if Related's development rights aren't extended, it might not be able to build on the lot adjacent to the Limelight.
"We've got hotel guests that would be on the third floor, fifth floor of the Limelight looking down on the uncompleted Lot 3, which isn't a very gracious kind of hospitality experience," Schuster said.
Mayor Bill Boineau and Councilman Fred Kucker expressed their disappointment at the meeting Monday.
"I am very disappointed," Boineau said. "I'm sure you guys are, too. I think everyone is, but I understand that there are other things that go on that you have to make a business decision on. I would hope that we could have moved forward and built it and if there were problems. … we could have dealt with those."
Dwayne Romero, president of Related Colorado, said in a statement that he and his company "understand and respect" Skico's decision.
"We have been working diligently with the Snowmass Village Planning Commission, the Town Council and town staff for the last four months to advance an amendment to our approvals that would provide this certainty by accelerating the completion of public improvements and extending the initial vesting period," Romero said.
"We consistently communicated the approval timeframe for the amendment required to move the development of Lot 2 forward, and we are disappointed that the timeline could not be met. In light of this recent decision, we will be thoroughly reviewing all of our options."
Without the Limelight being proposed, Related likely will not continue to include the phasing changes in its current application and will seek to treat it as a minor amendment. Related also will apply for a building permit for building 13B, the second phase of the Viceroy Snowmass, later this month, Romero said. Related has said it will start work on the building during this construction season.
Resident Arnold Mordkin, who spoke against Related's appeal of the amendment classification at the Feb. 18 meeting, said again that Skico could have requested to waive the roundabout requirement.
"It was clear to me, and I will not repeat what Mr. Schuster said, other than to say it was clear to me that Skico was well aware that they could have asked for a waiver of the roundabout requirement for a certificate of occupancy," Mordkin said.
Mordkin also said it was not the council's fault that the Limelight failed.
"The fault, if you would talk about fault, happened way back in December of 2013 when Related failed to do what it was that council asked," Mordkin said.
Related had said it would submit plans for the overall Base Village project by the end of 2013. The lack of such an application was one of the reasons cited for classifying the application as major, so that the town could see a sketch plan before considering Related's proposal to extend vesting rights.