Base Village completes the puzzle for WestPac
Pat Smith inked a deal Tuesday with the Aspen Skiing Co. and Intrawest to buy the commercial portion of the 1 million-square-foot Base Village development at Snowmass Ski Area.Smith, a principal in the privately held WestPac Investments LLC, purchased roughly 55,000 square feet of commercial space for use as restaurants and shops, while the Skico will retain about 80,000 square feet for ticket offices, ski school space and a 25,000-square-foot kids center. Intrawest is still set to build Base Village, so this deal just means Smith has agreed to buy commercial space as it is finished. No sale price was released, and public records of the sale will not be available until Smith closes on individual commercial spots starting next year.Smith said he has already started working to purchase the more lucrative – and expensive – residential part of the village. Sources close to the sale said buying the commercial part of the village has established Smith as a legitimate player in the multimillion-dollar deal.”I’m hoping to succeed in acquiring the rest of the project,” Smith said. “All I’m really doing is stepping in. Right now Intrawest is the developer. All [the Skico is] really doing in reality is saying, ‘Pat, you step in in place of Intrawest.'”Smith evolved into a key developer in Snowmass Village after first getting involved with building The Residences at Little Nell in Aspen, a fractional-ownership project. He is the key developer of the Snowmass Center and the Snowmass Mall.The purchase puts Smith in the position of being the owner of nearly all the commercial space in Snowmass Village. The possibility of a monopoly on commercial space has made some in Snowmass worry about the dangers of one owner, though most people are merely tentative, waiting to see if there are problems. “I’m concerned, but I’m not worried,” said Snowmass Town Councilman Bill Boineau.”Monopolies go two ways,” he said. “He can charge the moon if he owns all these things. I’ve said to Pat, ‘Hopefully you’re aware we’re a much more seasonal resort [than Aspen]. With you having control of everything, I hope you’re not planning on putting Gucci in all these [commercial spaces].'”Some current tenants worry that high rents could force them out as the commercial centers in Snowmass develop.”Demand for a good merchant will go up dramatically,” said Jim Crown, managing partner of the Aspen Skiing Co. “We’re bringing more people into Snowmass. We’re hoping people won’t be running to Aspen as much for retail and restaurants. That means tenants will be doing more biz and can afford higher rents.”Smith said he became interested in purchasing Base Village in part because he needed somewhere to move renters during the redevelopment of the mall.”There are probably some advantages to having one landlord for those properties,” said Jeff Tippet, a former mayor. “Base Village is going to have a lot more retail and not enough residential, and that’s the ideal time to close the mall for redevelopment. Tenants can move to Base Village and back to the mall pretty seamlessly with one owner.”Smith’s organization is now responsible for finding renters for the commercial space in Base Village as it is built. The plan for the village schedules the opening of 32,000 square feet of restaurants, bars and cafes in one building next year. Phase II includes 13,400 square feet of shops scheduled to open in another building in 2007-08; and 9,200 square feet of bars, restaurants and retail shops will open in a third building between 2007 and 2009.The residential part of the project includes 334 condominiums, a 27-unit Little Nell condo-hotel and a 226-unit Westin Lodge condo-hotel to be phased in between 2007 and 2011.Joel Stonington’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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