Discovery center back in Snowmass Base Village?

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

A permanent exhibit space for Snowmass Discovery might end up in Base Village after all.

The Town Council previously nixed a proposal by Related for community facilities that included a space for the nonprofit, and instead the developer agreed to build an ice-skating rink and water features in the heart of Base Village as well as grant the town $4.5 million that it could use to build its own community facility.

That offer still stands, but according to its most recent application filed the last week of May, Related is offering to still develop the courtyard but also convey a building to the town that it would develop into a discovery center.

The Snowmass Discovery nonprofit exists to create a permanent educational facility around the thousands of ice-age fossils that were discovered in Snowmass Village in 2010-11. While Base Village is its ideal location, the previous space discussed was not ideal.

“This space, while workable, was not ideal because of ceiling heights and a two-floor configuration,” said a letter from consultant Andy Anway that was submitted to the Town Council. “If there is an opportunity to secure space in a new construction this would undoubtedly be preferred.”

Nine condominiums as well as a coffee-shop sized food and beverage space had been proposed for the three-story Building 6. Related is now proposing a two-story, split-level design with “a double height hall with a high ceiling where life-size exhibits of the large mammals can be displayed,” the application states.

There would be 8,500 square feet of “flexible exhibition space, which includes a 1,000-square-foot meeting area,” according to the application. Related would develop the Snowmass Discovery space “out to its core and shell” and fund the development costs of as much as $3.5 million. The building would be conveyed to the town, and the coffee shop, which remains a part of Related’s proposal although smaller, would be leased by the developer for $1 per year.

Related also has completed some legwork on the design of the plaza amenities, incorporating public art, landscaping, seating areas and terracing as well as a main plaza that could host ice skating as well as concerts, events and a farmer’s market in the summer.

“It was essential that the space not only provide for clear circulation between buildings 4, 5 and 6, but that it also served as a platform for activities throughout the year,” the application states. “The programming of the Snowmass Discovery will also spill out onto the Plaza, allowing perhaps for outdoor lectures for adults or for school groups a spot to eat lunch, play or see and interact with a special seasonal Snowmass Discovery exhibit.”

Related wants to alter the previous agreement regarding the plaza somewhat, though. Previously, the council and Related agreed that the developer would design a $1 million project and double it if the town agreed to more buildout on the other lots.

Related’s new application proposes to build fewer but larger condominiums in Buildings 11 and 12 as well as relocating the residential square footage lost in Building 6 to Building 7, the Arrival Center. In its new community-purpose proposal, Related offers to spend $2 million on the plaza improvements.

The community-purpose proposals are included in Related’s preliminary-plan application, the next stage of land-use review by the town. A presentation for the Town Council and Planning Commission is scheduled for June 24, and the Planning Commission is set to have its first public hearing on the application July 15.