Designs for Base Village Building 12, dubbed “Aura,” get approval from Snowmass Town Council |

Designs for Base Village Building 12, dubbed “Aura,” get approval from Snowmass Town Council

Project mostly powered by electricity with some of largest units in Base Village residential inventory

A rendering of the Base Village Building 12, dubbed "Aura," as viewed from Wood Road, presented to Snowmass Village Town Council on Dec. 6, 2021. 4240 Architects is leading the design for the building, which will include 21 units with four or five bedrooms each.

Snowmass Village Town Council gave the green light on a resolution approving final architectural plans for Base Village Building 12 at a Dec. 6 regular meeting. The building, dubbed “Aura,” is slated for construction on Lot 7 along Assay Hill just south of the Viceroy.

Aura’s 21 units will be among the largest in the Base Village residential inventory: each unit has four or five bedrooms and averages about 2,655 square feet per unit.

That’s more than double the size and less than half the number compared to Electric Pass Lodge, which is currently under construction with 52 two- and three-bedroom free-market units averaging about 1,135 square feet, plus one deed-restricted unit.

Aura’s unit size is more on par with the 10 freestanding Havens at Fanny Hill homes also under construction, which each have three or four bedrooms plus a flex den and livable space footage that ranges from just under 2,500 to over 3,300 square feet.

Like Electric Pass Lodge, the plans for Aura consider eco-friendly practices as well as the relationship between residents and their environment.

The project will be largely powered by electricity once built (though a few components like heating the spa pool and snow melting still require natural gas), and the building will be a “mass timber” structure that relies more so on wood than the more carbon-intensive concrete and steel, according to Ellen McCready, the project manager for developer East West Partners.

“The building itself — excluding the spa pool and the snow melt — should have a zero carbon ongoing footprints and I know, there (were) articles a couple of weeks ago about having similar goals and the Race to Zero (initiatives) and carbon reduction strategies, so I think we’re in alignment there,” McCready said.

Housing mitigation for this project was previously completed offsite, so the developer isn’t required to build any new deed-restricted or rent-capped units onside when they break ground on Aura, according to the application submitted to the town.

“It’s not that it’s not mitigating employee housing, it’s that housing has already been mitigated,” McCready said.

But as the lack of affordable places for local employees to live reaches a crisis level, town officials expressed concerns about the impact another new luxury building would have in the long term on the co-occurring housing and workforce shortages.

“You guys, I’m sure, are as aware as anybody — I mean, employee housing in this village is becoming increasingly challenging,” Mayor Bill Madsen said. “And as you said, a lot of that mitigation was done long ago. We find ourselves today in a bit of a crunch: What are we going to do to address this?”

Andy Gunion, the Roaring Fork Valley managing partner for East West, acknowledged that housing was a “community-wide issue” and noted that an existing housing mitigation matrix is part of the vesting for the project so developers could anticipate mitigation and plan accordingly as they planned Base Village.

“In some respects time has not been in our favor, right, because all this mitigation was done long ago,” Gunion said. “Now, the projects were being built that required that mitigation but we can’t be penalized for that time gap.”

“I’m aware of that,” Madsen said, “but as a community, how are we going to address this issue? I mean, this is the biggest development in our town, and we need to figure out a way to house employees.”

Gunion noted that phase two of the Viceroy development will have a “significant housing component to it” and that East West is evaluating “all strategies” for potential housing mitigation in the future.

“There’s nothing we’re looking at that’s a definite go-ahead but it’s top of mind for everybody,” Gunion said.