Basalt adds bed base with new hotel
Basalt bucked the fractional ownership craze that’s swept Aspen by approving a condominium project that will operate more like a hotel, providing 54 short-term rental units in the town.The Basalt Town Council voted 7-0 Tuesday night to approve a four-story, 48,000-square-foot condo-hotel along Highway 82, just upvalley from Stubbies bar.In earlier reviews, council members and other town officials wanted assurances that the project will actually provide short-term rental units – also known as “hot beds” – and not just second homes. Officials said they believe it is important for Basalt’s economic growth to add a hotel to provide more shoppers and diners for the town’s stores and restaurants.The developers of the project, known as River Mountain Lodge, said the units will be sold as individual condominiums, but there will be restrictions on owners’ use.”The proposed plan will not encourage or foster ‘second-home’ type ownership where owners might reserve their rooms and not occupy them,” said a letter to the town from the developers’ attorney, Chris LaCroix.Ron Richmond of Chicago and his partners in Snowflake of Basalt LLC are developing the condo-hotel. The developers want to give condo buyers the chance to stay in the units for up to six months per year and up to 90 consecutive days. Town regulations allow residence in a hotel for only 30 consecutive days. The difference wasn’t resolved Tuesday night.LaCroix’s letter claimed it is “extremely unlikely” that even up to 25 percent of the owners would stay in their units for six months per year or 90 consecutive days. Statistics from similar projects in Aspen and Snowmass Village show owner use is much lower, he wrote.But even if use was that high in Basalt, that would still leave 75 percent of the condos available for short-term rental in summer and winter, LaCroix wrote.The council’s unanimous approval of the condo-hotel overturned an advisory vote by its planning and zoning commission. That board voted in November to limit the project to three stories rather than the four the developers sought. An earlier approval by the town allowed a height of 45 feet.The council ruled that it didn’t make sense to limit the number of floors since the approval was set at 45 feet. Council members were more concerned about adding landscaping and tweaking the design to shield the building’s bulk and mass.The condo-hotel will be easily visible tucked between the Roaring Fork River and highway along the Basalt bypass. Floodplain issues left the developers with a long, narrow piece of property to work with, so they proposed the four stories. In addition to 54 condo-hotel rooms, the project will include two employee units.Members of the Town Council complimented revisions the development team made to the building during the last month.”I’m really excited about this,” Mayor Leroy Duroux said. “The redesign really helped scale it back. I’m not afraid of this building now at all.”Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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