Developer unveils new plans for Base Village in Snowmass
The Aspen Times
The key to expanding and improving Base Village lies in bringing more diversity to the development, including a new mix of fractional, time-share and employee-housing units for some of the buildings that have yet to be constructed, a developer said Tuesday.
Dwayne Romero, president of Related Colorado, unveiled new concepts for the project during a joint meeting of Snowmass Village Town Council and Planning Commission members. The meeting room at Town Hall was filled to capacity with concerned residents and stakeholders in the project. Related Colorado owns Base Village through subsidiary Snowmass Acquisition Co.
While Tuesday’s meeting was largely an initial overview of Related Colorado’s plans as presented by Romero, the format of another meeting planned for Thursday night will be a roundtable in which public and private officials are expected to weigh certain pros and cons of the company’s proposal.
Romero pointed out that the process for building out remaining lots is just beginning. He said input from the community as well as Snowmass Village officials will be valuable in the coming months.
But a milestone is approaching. The vested rights for finishing buildings in certain areas expires in November. Romero said to achieve progress with the development, those vested rights will need to be extended soon, for a period up to five years. The vested rights for the overall development expire in 2024.
“From a lay person’s view, everything to the west of the ski-back trail, … together with the (proposed) roundabout and then the Viceroy Complex II, needed to be achieved by November 2014,” Romero said. “Not to be too cute about it, but we’re not going to be able to make that as it stands today in terms of delivery of those improvements.”
Joining Romero for the presentation was Andrew Dance, senior vice president of development with Related Cos. in New York. Dance said the financing is secure to move ahead with the project quickly. Construction could begin in the spring of 2015 if town officials approve the vesting-rights extension and the next phase of plans.
“If we want to see the mutual goal that we all have of getting this done fast, built concurrently so that we are not competing with one of the products, this is something that has to be done to segment the offerings, so we can sell multiple buildings at once,” Dance said.
“This is not really optional if we want to achieve the goals we’ve heard from the town,” he continued. “We are not looking to be in Base Village development for 20 years. We are looking to get this done soon. We want to be moving on multiple projects, and in order to do that, we need to be able to segment the market. If we deliver more of what we (already) have, we’re going to hurt ourselves and hurt the owners of condominiums and owners of (Snowmass) property in general. This is a necessity.”
Romero talked about the need to bring in a big-name partner to manage some of the new time-share buildings, companies with experience in providing valuable amenities and services to owners. He mentioned brands like Marriott, Wyndham and Hilton and said he wasn’t just throwing out names — a few companies are interested.
Bringing major resort-management companies into the mix will give Base Village access to millions of customers worldwide, Romero said.
“That’s where I get excited,” he said.
Plans call for “creating more keys” — in other words, creating a larger quantity of fractional and time-share units in certain buildings with different ways of locking off areas for prospective owners, he said.
There are plenty of unbranded, free-market condo units currently available for sale in Base Village, Romero said, suggesting that the development doesn’t need too many more.
Following the presentation, officials had a few questions. One wanted to know if the future buildings would increase in height or mass compared with current approvals. Romero said they wouldn’t.
Another asked if a hotel project was still a possibility. Last year, Aspen Skiing Co. submitted a proposal for a new Limelight Hotel location in Base Village, with 102 rooms, but announced in March it was canceling those plans because of various uncertainties surrounding vesting rights and a timeline for completing the project.
“We’ve given it a lot of thought,” Romero said. “It doesn’t pencil out” given the costs of running a hotel and the difficulties of trying to develop group sales during summer months, he said.
“The (Skico) deal was there, and it’s not there anymore,” Dance added.
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Basalt mayoral candidates Bill Kane and Rob Leavitt said at a Feb. 10 forum they endorsed the town government’s $1.34 million expenditure to expand a riverfront park. Candidate and councilman Bill Infante said not so fast and provided an alternative view.