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CMC, McBride talk dirt before finalizing Aspen campus deal

Allyn Harvey

Although the deal is not yet complete, construction of a new ColoradoMountain College campus in Aspen is expected to begin later thisyear.Aspen campus dean Dr. Ann Harris said one minor difference needsto be ironed out before CMC will commit to the project. DeveloperJohn McBride is hoping the college will purchase about two acreson which to build the campus as part of his North 40 project nearthe Aspen Airport Business Center.CMC has been working with McBride for several years in planningthe new campus. The current plan is for the college to build a27,000-square-foot building that would house classrooms and offices.CMC’s existing 14,000-square-foot building on the Aspen publicschools campus will be turned over to the Aspen School District.CMC was allowed to build on the school district property, butthe deal signed in 1976 called for the college to vacate the buildingin 2001.The new campus and McBride’s plans to build a 72-unit residentialdevelopment were approved on first reading last week by the PitkinCounty commissioners. Final approval is expected at the next regularBOCC meeting on March 10.Before the college and McBride shake hands over closing documents,however, they have one more detail to work out – what to do withall the dirt.Sources at CMC said McBride asked that the campus building belowered a few feet, which means removing large amounts of dirtfrom the building site. Harris said meeting McBride’s requestcould cost as much as $150,000, but she’s confident it won’t bea deal breaker. “I’m certainly hoping it works out,” she said. “Since it involvesdollars and cents, however, it could affect timing.”A spokesman for McBride confirmed that negotiations are in theirfinal stages and that current talks are consumed with the dirtand the cost of moving it.CMC Public Information Officer Joe Marquez said the college’spresident, Dr. Cynthia Heelan, is also confident a deal will beinked soon. Administrators plan to take the current state of negotiations- dirt and all – before the college’s board of directors on March5. Short of a meltdown, its expected the extra funding will beavailable if needed.CMC has so far budgeted $3.5 million to build the new campus,although Harris is not willing to speculate about the final cost.She said that given the heated state of Aspen’s construction market,the college realizes the price may be more than anticipated.”Until we go out for bid and see what it actually costs,” Harrissaid, “we don’t really know how much we’ll end up budgeting.”Marquez also said the college is reluctant to say exactly howmuch it is willing spend. “We don’t want to reveal too much about our budget,” he said,”because it affects our negotiations with contractors and subcontractors.You know how it works – you tell someone how much you’re willingto spend, and that’s how much you end up paying.” The Aspen facility is one of several locations that has or willbenefit from CMC’s master facilities plan for its seven-campusdistrict.The new Lappala Center opened in Carbondale in 1996 and work hasbeen finished in recent years in Glenwood Springs, Steamboat Springsand Leadville.CMC’s other campus locations include: Rifle, the Eagle-Vail campuswith class sites in both Eagle and Vail, and the Summit campuswith class sites in Breckenridge and Silverthorne.


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