Developers dust off plan for 164 residences in Basalt | AspenTimes.com

Developers dust off plan for 164 residences in Basalt

Cows graze Wednesday at the Stott's Mill site near Basalt High School. The perspective in this view is looking north, toward downtown. There is a proposal for 164 residences on the 19-acre site.

A 110-unit housing proposal that went dormant in Basalt during the recession has been revived and increased to 164 residences.

The Stott's Mill project was approved by the town in 2010 after more than four years of review. The partners in the development firm, MSP1, "took the project to the one-yard line" but couldn't cross the goal line, said Briston Peterson, a partner in the group. "The economy flipped on us at that point," he said.

Peterson's group gave the Aspen Valley Foundation an option to purchase the 19 acres near the Basalt High School. The foundation received approval in 2013 to build a Continuous Care and Retirement Community, but that project was also abandoned.

Now, Peterson and his partners are ready to pursue and expand their housing project. The Basalt Town Council agreed Tuesday night to a pre-development agreement — a document that doesn't guarantee approval but spells out responsibilities and conditions for both parties.

The town agreed that the approval for the 110-units originally proposed will be honored with some minor amendments. The proposal doesn't have to go back to square one in the review process.

A more extensive review will be required for the 54 additional residences in the proposal. The proposal was well received by the council Tuesday night.

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"The midvalley needs housing," Mayor Jacque Whitsitt said. "It's good to see somebody talking about it."

Mark Chain, the land-use planner for MSP1, said the plan is to build 64 single-family houses, townhouses and duplexed in the first phase of the project. Up to 100 multifamily units — including many rental apartments — would be built in the second phase. The project will conform to the town regulation that at least 25 percent of the units must be deed restricted as affordable housing, Chain wrote in a summary of the project.

The concept behind Stott's Mill was that high-density development on small lots would keep prices down even on units that aren't deed restricted. That "affordable-by-design" strategy remains intact, according to Chain's memo. The development team is contacting the Roaring Fork School District to see if it wants to acquire some of the housing in the project for its staff, Chain's memo said. Voters approved issuance of bonds and a property tax increase for the downvalley school district in the Nov. 3 election. The revenues will be used, in part, for employee housing.

The review of Stott's Mill is expected to resume this fall or early winter.

While Stott's Mill was revived, uncertainty clouds another affordable housing project in Basalt. The council extended approvals for the RealAmerica project for another six months to give the developer time to find financing.

RealAmerica has approvals to build a 56-unit affordable housing project on a vacant building foundation next to Stubbies on Emma Road. The project was approved in 2013. The developer's efforts to partner with Pitkin County government and get affordable-housing tax credits through the state of Colorado failed.

"The applicants have the property up for sale, but have also indicated that they are still pursuing alternatives to finance the construction of the apartments," said a staff memo to the Town Council.

scondon@aspentimes.com