El Jebel is booming after its second big project OK’d | AspenTimes.com

El Jebel is booming after its second big project OK’d

El Jebel became the fastest growing area in the valley over the last 10 days when two separate governments approved 810,000 square feet of development.

The town of Basalt led the charge last week by directing its staff to prepare approval documents for nearly 600,000 square feet of commercial space and public facilities at the Willits project.

Eagle County followed suit Thursday when the Roaring Fork Valley Regional Planning Commission granted the first round of approval for 210,000 square feet of commercial space across Highway 82 from Willits.

Combined, the two projects will add space equal to about 15 El Jebel City Markets.

The additional traffic will turn the intersection of Highway 82 and Willits Lane into a major intersection. It will force the need for another stoplight less than one mile from the main El Jebel signal.

Both approvals were granted to projects that have been contemplated since the early 1990s. Willits will add 456,000 square feet of retail and office space with some residential on upper floors of buildings. Another 74,000 square feet of affordable housing will be built, and public facilities such as a transit center, a performing arts center and a government building will boost the total to 600,000 square feet.

Across the highway, a third version of Kodiak Village was granted approval Thursday by the midvalley planning commission. Along with nearly 210,000 square feet of commercial space, the project will include 29 artist residences and studios; six luxury home lots; a 45-unit main lodge with small cabins; and five affordable housing units.

“We feel – we’re biased obviously – we’ve got an outstanding project,” said Glenn Horn, a land-use planner representing Kodiak owners Robert Cumming and Ace Lane of Wind River Development.

Kodiak drew praise from the planning commissioners for innovation. The development will be clustered around the downvalley half of a private water ski pond already on the property, across Highway 82 from the City Market parking lot.

Kodiak Village will continue to feature a tree nursery, and roughly 89 percent of the 204 acres will be parks or open space with dedicated conservation easements prohibiting future development, according to Horn. Trails will wind through the property.

Planning commission member Bob Schultz attempted to eliminate the six luxury home lots from the project. The board was under no obligation to provide the developers with “up-front money” via sales of the lots, he argued.

His effort to eliminate the lots was defeated by planning commissioners Gary Ross and Mary Holley, and approval for Kodiak Village was granted by a 2-1 vote. That was the first of three rounds of approvals the project will need before construction begins.

The project will go to the Eagle County Commissioners Jan. 2.

Kodiak is in unincorporated Eagle County. Willits is within Basalt’s town boundaries.

Construction of the Willits commercial core could begin as soon as next summer, depending on final negotiations between the developers and the town of Basalt.

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