Basalt, developer complete purchase of Pan and Fork property
A decade-long, occasionally ugly chapter in Basalt’s history ended Wednesday with the sale of the Pan and Fork property.
Basalt River Park LLC purchased 2.3 acres of empty land from the nonprofit organization Roaring Fork Community Development Corp (CDC). In a simultaneous transaction, Basalt River Park sold 1 acre of the land to the town of Basalt.
The site is sandwiched between the Roaring Fork River and Two Rivers Road. It is adjacent to Rocky Mountain Institute’s headquarters.
The sale is a giant step toward completing a vision to end squalid living conditions at the former Pan and Fork Mobile Park and redevelop a portion of the property out of the floodplain. The town government and CDC first discussed the vision shortly after Thanksgiving 2010.
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“Things move at the pace the community accepts,” said Basalt Mayor Bill Kane.
The purchase was particularly gratifying for him. Kane was town manager when the idea was first hatched. He said he is “very excited” to see the concept advance.
Basalt River Park LLC, an investment group headed by Roaring Fork Valley businessman Tim Belinski, will break ground next spring on a project that mixes residential and commercial uses.
The town of Basalt will fold its 1 acre into an existing, adjacent park along the Roaring Fork River. The town also acquired a small site within the development for an arts or other nonprofit use.
The town paid $1.5 million. Basalt River Park paid $1.7 million for its portion. Both sales worked out to $31.70 per square foot.
In August 2011, CDC and the town teamed to buy the former Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park and 5.4 acres of land. The town obtained 2.9 acres that was most susceptible to flooding.
The town also undertook the financial responsibility to relocate residents of 35 mobile homes on the site, some of which officials said were overcrowded and did not have adequate water and sewer service. Town officials also contended they were getting the residents out of harm’s way from flooding risk.
The move was opposed by several residents and other community members. However, that controversy was later overshadowed by years of community bickering and political fighting over how the remaining 2.3 acres should be used. Part of the town wanted the entire site to be developed to spur business downtown. The other part wanted all park. Belinski’s group proposed a blended compromise that was approved by the Town Council in February.
The project’s components are:
— 24 residents, including 11 free-market townhouses, nine free-market homes and four affordable housing units.
— A 3,000-square-foot restaurant with an outdoor patio intertwined with the public park.
— 11,500 square feet of commercial space with 12 percent reserved for nonprofit offices.
— About 5,000 square feet for a community use. It was once envisioned as a future home for the Art Base, but the community arts center is under contract to buy an existing building downtown.
Belinski said the first phase of the development project will get underway next spring with construction of five townhouses on the riverside of the site and three condominiums on the Two Rivers Road side along with infrastructure.
“We’re keeping that on track for a busy summer,” Belinski said. “It will be great for downtown.”
Basalt Town Manager Ryan Mahoney said Basalt’s first course of action is clear.
“We’ll take the fence down,” he said.
CDC erected a stark, black fence around the 2.3 acres a few years ago. McVoy acknowledged it was put up to break the community impasse over what to do with the property.
The public works department will remove the fence from the portion the town purchased. Belinski said a fence must remain around his future construction site, but the black fence will be replaced with something easier on the eyes.
Mahoney said the town also has $750,000 budgeted in 2021 to start working on park amenities.
“By the end of 2021, we’re going to have a good outline of what things are going to look like,” he said.
McVoy said the investors who helped CDC acquire the site recouped their money after the long process. While he is disappointed that the original vision for the property fell through, he believes Belinski’s plan was the best that could advance given the divided community.
“One of the best things is that I no longer have to answer questions about the black fence,” he said.
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