Basalt council welcomes changes but reserves judgment on downtown project
Developers asked to come back with more information on building height, affordability of units
The fate of a proposed development project in downtown Basalt remains unsettled even after the developers said they would lop off a fourth floor and add affordable housing to the project.
Basalt Town Council member welcomed the change during their review Tuesday night but said they need to study the proposal further.
“You actually listened,” Basalt councilman Gary Tennenbaum said.
Developers Tim Belinski and Andrew Light initially proposed 70 apartments units, including 11 with rent controls, and a 9,000-square-foot grocery store at their Basalt Center Circle project. The site includes a large, vacant space near downtown that was once occupied by Clark’s Market.
The developers eliminated the fourth floor after several members of the public and council members cringed two weeks ago at the bulk and mass of the building. Belinski said Tuesday night the height of the building was 49 feet in the initial proposal. He said it is difficult to say what the new height would be until his architect works on a redesign.
“In the end, I don’t think we’ll be any higher than 45 feet and maybe closer to 40 feet,” he said.
Councilman Glenn Drummond said losing a story but only shedding four feet in height probably wouldn’t be looked at favorably.
“We need to make people actually feel like there’s a height difference,” he said.
Mayor Bill Kane expressed concerns at the last meeting about the bulk of the building. He was pleased with the reduction in height.
“I think it will really soften the impact of the building,” he said.
Council members also credited the developers for increasing the amount of affordable housing. The initial proposal featured 11 rent-controlled units among the 70 total residences. Now, the plan is for 17 affordable housing rental units among 66 total units. The grocery space remains part of the proposal.
Council members requested more information from the town staff on what the rental rates would be on the affordable housing units.
In addition, some council members expressed concern about the free market units actually providing housing attainable to local professionals and other workers. Belinski assured them the units wouldn’t be short-term tourist rentals. At least 60% of the units will require a one-year lease, he said, and the number could be boosted to ease the council’s concerns. No units could be rented for fewer than 30 days.
“It’s housing for community members,” Belinski said.
Councilman Bill Infante expressed empathy for the developers. When the town updated its master plan in 2020, members of the public and town officials commented extensively that the old Clark’s site was the perfect location for a high-density project. But now that a high-density project has been proposed, the developers are experiencing pushback.
“Your guys’ heads must be spinning,” Infante said.
The council did not vote on the plan. Instead, they continued the hearing to Oct. 12 to further scrutinize the height of building and affordability of the rent-controlled units.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Aspen and Snowmass Village make the Aspen Times’ work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
Even though the number of COVID-19 cases have dropped since the delta variant spike in late August, Eagle County is still experiencing a high level of transmission in the community.