Marolt: What’s harder to predict, Snowmass’ Base Village ribbon-cutting ceremony or an economic collapse? | AspenTimes.com

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Marolt: What’s harder to predict, Snowmass’ Base Village ribbon-cutting ceremony or an economic collapse?

Roger Marolt

Anyone know when the next recession is due? The current economic expansion has been going on for almost nine years now (not that anybody in Snowmass Village has noticed) and that's a long time by historical standards. The longest in modern history was a decade.

I bring this up not just because it seems like we are about due for another economic downdraft. It's that I noticed we are also about due to see the second coming of the diggers, nail-pounders and subcontractors in the resurrection of the Base Village project. Nobody can scientifically explain the phenomenon of deja vu, but we all know it when we see it. Get ready.

I don't know what is harder to predict, the projected ribbon cutting ceremony for Base Village or the next collapse of the economy. So many dates and schedules have been launched at us that the targeted completion of the Renaissance of Snowmass Village is about as vaguely pinpointed on the calendar as a bull's-eye on the shooting range after the first day of summer camp. There have been plenty of shots taken, but all have missed the mark, and enough slugs have been embedded in the dirt on the side of the hill that one can almost picture a lead mine there instead of a luxurious resort.

What I'm getting at is, very realistically speaking, it is probably more likely than not that the next recession will hit sometime during the restart of the construction phase of Base Village or shortly thereafter during the grand opening of the Ice Age Discovery Center, which will also likely coincide with the opening of the new Limelight Lodge and other non-events for whatever else they have planned up there for the other buildings going in. Who can keep track?

Not that there is much doubt as it stands, or not, so to speak, but this will cement (pardon the pun) Snowmass Base Village as the most ill-conceived, dunder-headed development project in Colorado history. What the carnival show of project overseers have done is turn a proposed million-square-foot, billion-dollar pie in the sky plan for turning our town into an exact replica of the Emerald City into a thrift shop jigsaw puzzle of Disney's haunted mansion that we can't finish because a few key pieces have either fallen behind the piano or been swallowed by the dog, and nobody has the guts to box it up and take it to the thrift shop and then buy a new one with fewer pieces and a prettier picture.

I know what you are thinking. This could not possibly be the biggest development fiasco in Colorado history, right? There must have been some scam or another during the mining era that eclipses the mess we've created here.

All I can say to that is, I doubt it. Not to salt the silver mine, but the Base Village scam has been going on now for about the same length of time as our silver mining era lasted, start to finish, give or take.

Now we have to deal with the prospects of another recession and possible further delays in the realization of our Base Village dream coming true. When do we start looking at this thing realistically?

It was a plan concocted for perfect economic times. It is a product of the greatest real estate boom any of us will ever see. It was derailed by the biggest economic implosion any of us will ever, hopefully, see. Although it took some time, most real estate projects from those days were redrawn and scaled back and were completed during the tepid recovery we have been in during the past 10 years. Why didn't we insist that we be done with Base Village rather than extending vesting rights in a project that likely will never work? It will be easier to determine the cause and exact time of death for the Snowmass mastodons than answer that question.

If it does turn out that the Base Village project ends up connecting the dots of economic recessions now, I think it is fair to wonder if it can ever overcome that cycle of almost being there but not quite before the next calamity sets it back to the beginning again. We are in danger of repeating history.

Yet, we can't really be blamed. A lot of people who actually know what happened here are now gone.

On the bright side, Roger Marolt has noticed that they're still coming even though we haven't built it. Email at roger@maroltllp.com.