Commercial space numbers for Base Village embraced | AspenTimes.com

Commercial space numbers for Base Village embraced

Brent Gardner-Smith
Aspen Times Staff Writer

Four of the five members of the Snowmass Village Town Council are comfortable with the idea of 100,000 square feet of new commercial space in the proposed Base Village project.

At a meeting on Monday, council members voiced support for a “critical mass” of retail shops, restaurants and other commercial ventures in a new Intrawest village at the bottom of Fanny Hill, some distance from the existing, and often struggling, shops and restaurants on the Snowmass mall.

“Base Village needs to have a commercial core that can qualify as a shopping entity within it,” said Snowmass Village Mayor T. Michael Manchester. “I’m pretty confident that we should be thinking about 100,000 square feet of commercial in Base Village.”

Intrawest has proposed approximately 93,000 square feet of new commercial space in Base Village along with 683 condos.

Manchester’s sentiments were echoed by council members Arnie Mordkin, Bob Purvis and Dick Virtue. Councilman Doug Mercatoris expressed doubts about the size of the proposed commercial development in the project.

“I’m just not there yet,” Mercatoris said. “I don’t want to see empty storefronts in either of the commercial areas.” But he added, “It sounds as if this is going to be the new commercial core.”

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The council’s support for 100,000 square feet of commercial space in the proposed ski-in, ski-out village was solidified after a meeting on Friday with retail consultant Chris LeTourneur of Thomas Consultants of Vancouver, British Columbia.

LeTourneur made the case that the new village, dubbed “Brush Creek Village” by Intrawest, would attract more people and increase tourism spending in Snowmass, but only if there is a minimum of 100,000 square feet of restaurants, retail shops, entertainment venues, convenience stores and services to make the resort village work.

And, he said, the existing mall with its 65,000 square feet of viable retail space and the Snowmass Center, with its 32,000 square feet of retail, will succeed in the future only if Brush Creek Village also succeeds.

On Monday, that assertion was not challenged by a consultant representing two of the major commercial property owners on the mall, although the issue of phasing was seen as critical.

Mary Brown, a government relations specialist with Intermountain Corporate Affairs, told the council that her clients were very concerned about how the new commercial space would affect their properties, especially if the proposed 683 condos in the village are built long after the new commercial space is built.

And she also said that the owners on the mall would likely respond with some sort of redevelopment plan when they learn more about the details of the new commercial space proposed for Base Village.

But her comments may have been more notable for what was left out, especially given the long history of objections from mall owners to any type of Base Village development. There were no threats of a lawsuit and no declarations that a new commercial center will ruin the mall, only a request for more information.

A similar tone was sounded by John Francis on Friday. Francis owns the Gateway section of the mall, closest to the bus terminal.

“We want something to happen,” Francis said about Base Village. And he added that he wants the new project to be successful.

“But we need to make what we have up here work,” he said.

[Brent Gardner-Smith’s e-mail address is bgs@aspentimes.com.]

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