Westpac wants fractional condominiums
August 19, 2008
SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” Related WestPac on Monday asked the Snowmass Village Town Council for permission to change one of its Base Village buildings from a smaller wholly-owned condominiums to three- and four-bedroom fractional condominiums.
But to make the change more palatable for a town leery of losing “hot beds,” the developer agreed to the Snowmass Planning Commission’s proposed insurance policy, called an economic safeguard backstop.
A change to larger condominiums for Building 12 could mean fewer visitors (although Related WestPac argues that the fractional element could increase the number of visitors). Since the start of Base Village, the town has been concerned with creating lodging that supports high occupancy, so as not to create the ghost-town feel of many resort towns with second-home owners.
The change could also decrease lodging taxes. Condominium owners, even fractional ones, do not pay lodging tax in Colorado, but hotel guests and renters do. Fractional condominiums, arguably, cannot be rented as frequently as wholly-owned condominiums.
However, the backstop proposed by the planning commission would offer two guarantees in response to these concerns. It would first promise that lodging tax collections do not decline from the revenue originally projected for Building 12. If the new building generates less lodging tax ” and Related WestPac President Pat Smith acknowledged that it probably will ” the company will make up the difference. Smith proposed a one-time payment that would pay an annuity.
The backstop would also ensure that the fractional condominiums won’t bring fewer people than a hotel. If the annual population is less than 15,000, the developer would add additional bedrooms at its conference hotel in West Village to make up for the shortfall.
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Related WestPac argued that the proposed change will actually benefit Snowmass, bringing diversity (right now Base Village has very few three- and four-bedroom condominiums) and increases in visitors, sales tax, real estate transfer tax and property tax.
But Councilman Reed Lewis pointed out that the change also benefits Related WestPac, saying Smith had said a building with fractional units usually grosses 1.7 times that of one with whole ownership.
And at least two community members argued that whenever Related WestPac asks for a change, it is always one that primarily benefits the company.
Council members said they would have to spend more time examining the proposal, which also includes minor changes to another building, before making a decision.
This correction was published Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2008:
There was an error in a story about Base Village in Tuesday’s Aspen Times. Building 12 is changing from small, whole-ownership condominiums to larger, fractional- branded condominiums. Building 12 has never been a hotel.