155 residences proposed in final chapter of Willits | AspenTimes.com

155 residences proposed in final chapter of Willits

Condos, affordable housing in application along with completion of lake and trail

The founder of Willits is making plans for the final piece of the development puzzle.

Architect Michael Lipkin submitted a land use application to the town of Basalt for as many as 119 free-market condominiums and as many as 36 affordable housing units. The review starts Tuesday with a tour of the site by the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission.

The condos and affordable housing units are on the last 12 undeveloped acres on the site. In addition to the residences, Lipkin applied to complete a lake and adjacent landscaping that’s in the middle of the property. He also will complete a trail around the lake that integrates into a popular public trail network.

“Willits is a young town, growing up nicely and appropriately,” Lipkin’s introduction to the application said. “It’s likely to be here, much like Aspen, Carbondale and Basalt, for a long time.”

Lipkin received approval for the residential portion of Willits, legally known as Sopris Meadows, in the late 1990s. Willits Town Center was approved in 2001. While it was slow in developing, the center is now thriving with Whole Foods as the anchor. The final phase of development in the center is occurring with the construction of Aspen Skiing Co. employee housing, a performing arts center and the Steadman Clinic.

A handful of single-family home lots remain undeveloped in the adjacent residential neighborhood. Lipkin is finishing work on the seventh and final building of the Park Modern luxury condos.

The undeveloped land, formally known as Parcel 5, is between Park Modern to the west and the lake to the east. The application envisions the free market units divided into seven buildings and the affordable housing units in two buildings adjacent to Willits Lane.

“We have been designing and developing at Willits for over 23 years, and Parcel 5 will build on our knowledge and successes, particularly our most recent project, Park Modern,” the application said. “Our planning strategies include parking under buildings, minimizing asphalt and hardscape, contouring an otherwise flat terrain, and park-like spaces between buildings with robust landscaping.”

If approved, Parcel 5 will be built in phases, probably over eight to 10 years, the application said. The evolving health of the economy will dictate the speed of development.

The affordable housing units will be completed as part of the second phase. The Willits Lake and trail will be completed in phase two or within five years of the land use approvals, whichever comes first, the application proposes.

The planning commission will make an advisory vote on the proposal and then it will go to Town Council for what is known as sketch plan review. There are three total rounds of review.