Basalt council aims to continue work with developer |

Basalt council aims to continue work with developer

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times

The Basalt Town Council reaffirmed Tuesday night that it will continue to work with a developer with strong Aspen ties on a plan to meld development and a park on a portion of the former Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park site.

The council met in a closed session for more than an hour to consider a request from a nonprofit organization called Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. for the town to buy roughly 2.3 acres it owns at the Pan and Fork site. The nonprofit owns the portion of the property closest to Two Rivers Road. The town government owns roughly the same size of property along the Roaring Fork River. The town is turning its portion into a riverfront park. The fate of the Community Development Corp. parcel has been the subject of intense community debate over the last year.

Community Development Corp. has a contract to sell the property to Lowe Enterprises for just shy of $3 million. Lowe proposed a boutique hotel and condominiums on the site, but the plan was widely criticized by the public and some members of the council. Lowe said it is open to reconsidering its plan.

That’s the course of action the Town Council majority wants to pursue. Town Manager Mike Scanlon said after Tuesday’s executive session that the council decided to “basically keep doing what we’re doing.”

That means holding a public meeting to discuss the concept behind a map that shows the Community Development Corp. property would be essentially split in two. The half to the east, closest to the intersection of Two Rivers Road and Midland Avenue, would be kept open. The half closest to the Innovation Center being constructed by Rocky Mountain Institute would be available for development.

The town also will have its planning and zoning commission work on the density and uses it would like to see on the property, Scanlon said. Lowe Enterprises will be engaged in that process, he said.

A key component to moving ahead with a plan is to use other land the town uses across Two Rivers Road from the Pan and Fork site to provide Lowe Enterprises with extra development property. That property could be swapped for parkland at the Pan and Fork, he said.

Scanlon said the goal of the process is to reach a solution that satisfies all entities. Community Development Corp. will recoup the money invested in the property, Lowe Enterprises gets enough property to make a development economically feasible and the town gets economic vitality and a park.

Community Development Corp. doesn’t share the town’s view on satisfaction. President Michael McVoy said the nonprofit’s board of directors feels the best course of action is for the town to buy the entire 2.3 acres then take its time deciding how to proceed.

“We’re definitely ready to come to a completion of our role in this,” McVoy said. He later added, “Our creditors would definitely prefer to get their money back.”

Community Development Corp. contributed a little more than $2 million to the Pan and Fork purchase in 2011. Various expenses, including as much as $140,000 a year in interest payments, have boosted its investment in the property to nearly $3 million, McVoy said. It would be willing to sell the property to the town for a lower amount, he said.

Community Development Corp. was created by the Manaus Fund, an organization founded by philanthropist George Stranahan, to pursue social justice projects. Between four and six individuals in the Manaus-Community Development Corp. network are the creditors for the nonprofit’s purchase of the Pan and Fork site, McVoy said.

The money that’s tied up in the property could be put to use pursuing other social justice projects in the Roaring Fork Valley, according to Jon Fox-Rubin, executive director of the Manaus Fund.