Basalt retirement community needs OK in 21 months |

Basalt retirement community needs OK in 21 months

BASALT – The Aspen Valley Medical Foundation signed a contract to buy land for a senior-housing project in Basalt, contingent upon the plan getting approval from the Town Council within 21 months.

The medical foundation has a contract to buy 18 acres in the Southside area of Basalt, not far from the high school, according to project manager Richard Shaw. The property is known as the Stott’s Mill site, where Basalt approved 110 homes in early 2010. Stott’s Mill hasn’t advanced because of the sluggish economy.

The medical foundation approached the owners with a proposal to buy the land, executive director Kris Marsh said, and the escrow “went hard” on May 11. The contract is a bit of a “calculated risk” because of the uncertainty of meeting specific deadlines, she said.

Among the steps, the medical foundation must initiate an annexation request to Basalt and advance quickly through the land-use review process – obtaining final approval within the 21-month window.

“We hope we can count on the cooperation of the town in moving forward,” Shaw said. An application will be ready for review by October, he said.

The medical foundation outlined a preliminary plan for its Continuing Care Retirement Community in January. At that time, the plan included 75 apartments and one-story cottages, about 20 assisted-living units and a nursing home. It could employ between 75 and 100 caregivers and other associated workers.

“We’re really convinced this is going to become a reality,” Marsh said. The medical foundation sought sites in and around Aspen but eventually was forced to set its sights downvalley.

Marsh said people call the medical foundation every week asking how they can get on the list to live in the retirement community. The demand is likely to grow as the plan moves toward fruition.

Basalt has a notoriously slow development process. The Stott’s Mill project, for example, was in the “preapplication” process with town staff or under review by the Planning and Zoning Commission and the Town Council for five years. The contract signed by the Stott’s Mill partners won’t allow the medical foundation project to meander at that pace.

The town government took steps last week to speed the review. It hired Bill Maron as a senior planner to dedicate time exclusively to the review of the retirement community and the separate application for the redevelopment of the Pan and Fork Mobile Home Park.

Town Manager Bill Kane said Tuesday night he felt the retirement community project’s deadline won’t be a problem.

“At first pass, it looks like something that can be met,” he said.

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