Cabinetmaker aims to give craftsmen a home |

Cabinetmaker aims to give craftsmen a home

A Basalt cabinetmaker wants to build a 92,500-square-foot mixed-use development in the midvalley that would give other craftsmen and their employees a chance to live close to where they work.Stephen Crowley and his partners in Blue Crow Limited Liability Co. have applied to Eagle County to tear down about 30,000 square feet of aging commercial and light industrial buildings located in the Basalt Trade Center between the Basalt Design Center and the Aspen-Basalt Campground.They want to replace it with seven buildings featuring a mix of 38,000 square feet of facilities for fabrication businesses and trades; 16,500 square feet for offices; 7,500 for retail shops and restaurants; and 30,500 for residences.The idea behind the project is to offer enough small spaces that they are affordable for the targeted market – owners of businesses like furniture makers, cabinetmakers, blacksmiths and other trades and crafts, according to Glenn Rappaport, the architect for the project.”We see a lot of these businesses moving down to Silt, Rifle and New Castle,” he said.Rappaport views the project as one that provides an opportunity in the midvalley to do something other than construct second homes.A survey of business owners and real estate agents found that shops of 1,000 square feet were in high demand for purchase for light industrial uses. Demand is highest for finished spaces that can be purchased, rather than rental units or land to develop by individual businesses, according to the application.The second strong component of the proposal is affordable housing on the second and third stories of the buildings.”Based upon our market research, the applicant believes that the inclusion of residential units into the project will not only provide much-needed housing at affordable rents or sales prices, but will add vitality to the development and provide support, in employees and customers, for a healthy mix of business activities,” the application said.Although the project has earned praise for targeting small trade businesses and mixing in housing, it is also running into resistance for the proposed density.Despite its location at the Basalt Trade Center, the site isn’t in Basalt. The space wasn’t annexed, at the owner’s choice, when the town leaped from its core out to the El Jebel City Market in the mid-1990s.The trade center sits on an unincorporated pocket of Eagle County. The town of Basalt only has the power to comment on the project, but the final approval or denial rests with the Eagle County commissioners.The Basalt Planning Commission wrote a letter earlier this year to Eagle County crediting the innovative concept of the project but raising concerns that the density is inconsistent with the surrounding neighborhood.”The proposed floor area of more than 90,000 square feet, a net increase of approximately 60,000 square feet, is felt to exceed the appropriate capacities of the site and will generate unmitigated impacts on adjoining properties, community and infrastructure,” the planning commission letter said.The River Oaks subdivision is across Willits Lane from the trade center. The Oak Grove Townhomes are adjacent to it.The Eagle County planning staff also expressed concerns and recommended denial in a memo to its planning commission. The staff identified potentially incompatible uses not only in the neighborhood but within the project, such as locating residences and restaurants near light industrial areas. Parking was also identified as a potential problem.Rappaport said his clients hope to work out issues with the Eagle County planning staff before the application is reviewed by the Roaring Fork Valley Planning Commission Sept. 2.”We don’t want to go in with a denial and say ‘Forget about the staff. We want you to approve this,'” he said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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