Basalt developer wants to revive stalled condo-hotel | AspenTimes.com
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Basalt developer wants to revive stalled condo-hotel

BASALT – The developer of a stalled condominium-hotel project in Basalt wants to overhaul the plan and build something more likely to secure financing in the economic climate.

A Chicago-based firm called Snow River Lodge Inc. wants to convert the condo-hotel project into a traditional hotel, representative Jim Richmond told Basalt officials in a recent meeting.

His company has approval to build 54 lodge rooms and two affordable housing units on vacant land between Highway 82 and the Roaring Fork River adjacent to Stubbies bar. The total approval is for about 48,000 square feet. The project stalled 18 months ago after the concrete foundation was poured. The owners “lost financing” during the recession, according to Basalt Assistant Planning Director James Lindt.

The condo complex was supposed to operate like a hotel. Owners would be allowed a limited time in the units, assuring they would turn over and fuel Basalt’s tourism-based economy.

Financing to build fractional ownership projects has nearly dried up, and loans for buyers of the units are virtually non-existent, according to sources in the real estate development industry.

Richmond and his group want to alter the approvals so they can build a standard hotel. He told the Basalt Town Council in a recent meeting he wants to build 61 rooms and will add a third affordable housing unit.

The town planning department supports the change. “Staff feels that the request to convert the approved condominium hotel to a standard hotel will further the Town’s goal of creating a balanced economy and sustainable economic growth,” a memo to the council said. “A standard hotel will better promote ‘hot beds’ and tourism than will a condominium hotel.”

The council also supported the concept of a conversion, but board members were put off by architectural plans submitted by Richmond. “It’s a big departure from what was approved,” said Councilman Pete McBride.

The Snow River Lodge is in a highly visible spot essentially at the entrance to town, McBride said. It’s appearance is important.

The other council member concurred. “I am concerned about the roof line,” said Councilwoman Amy Capron. “It kind of looks like a big box and that concerns me.”

Doug Allen, the managing partner of commercial developments adjacent to the hotel site, said he wants the developer to get moving on a hotel since it has been 17 years since the ownership group first made plans to build. Various delays keep plaguing the project. But Allen said it is also important that the project is done right because it is in such a prominent place, visible from Highway 82.

“Like a nose, you’re going to see this building,” Allen said, adding he didn’t think it would require much additional expense to improve the architecture.

The council voted to send the project to the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission for review since the new proposal is substantially different from the approved plan. The planning commission will take first crack at the aesthetics at a future meeting.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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