Growth spurt in El Jebel

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
A map indicating the location of the major projects in El Jebel. (Graphic by Lauren Swihart)

EL JEBEL ” Tough economic times haven’t slowed activity at the crossroads of the midvalley.

Two existing developments in the El Jebel area are starting major next phases this summer. Two new development proposals are seeking approvals from Eagle County. And three public works projects added to the mix make a lot of construction activity in El Jebel.

Developer Joseph Freed and Associates is taking steps needed to get permits to build the next two buildings in the commercial core of the Willits Town Center. The groundbreaking is expected on the building that will be the future home of Whole Foods Market.

A flurry of dirt work at Willits this spring was required to bury the Harris-Reed Ditch in an underground pipe. In addition, a stormwater system was built. Now, crews are excavating to prepare for a foundation.

Across Highway 82 and slightly closer to the El Jebel, the developers of the Shadowrock townhouses have started the next phase of their project. So far, 30 luxury townhouses have been built. Another 70 are planned and approved. They will be phased in.

Two other major projects are in the planning stages in El Jebel. Ace Lane intends to submit an application in June for his property across Highway 82 from the El Jebel City Market, where the Kodiak Lake water ski facility is located.

Lane and his family withdrew an application in November 2006 for 245 residences and 93,000 square feet of commercial space. That project was called Tavaci.

The new “Tree Farm” project will scale down the Tavaci plan, according to Jon Fredericks, a land-use planner on Lane’s team. He said the Tree Farm will be a transit-oriented project and will include a photovoltaic system that will supply electricity for roughly 25 percent of the development.

No other details were available because the application hasn’t been submitted yet to Eagle County.

Another developer is seeking approval for a project where the old Fitzsimmons Amoco gas station and car wash was located. The new owners of the 2.3-acre site have proposed 25,000 square feet of deed-restricted and resident-occupied housing, roughly 25,000 square feet of net leaseable commercial space, and 23 free-market residential units that average 2,200 square feet each, according Stan Clauson, whose land-use planning firm is working on the project.

The project will be one of the first reviewed under Eagle County’s revamped, more stringent affordable housing rules. The proposal includes 16 deed-restricted units and 7,300 square feet of resident-occupied housing, Clauson said.

The commercial space will breakdown into 11 to 16 storefronts, he said.

The project is scheduled to go before the Roaring Fork Planning Commission, a branch of Eagle County, on June 19.

One of the most noticeable projects in El Jebel has been the addition to the stoplight at the intersection of Highway 82 and Willits Lane. A new road, Tree Farm Drive, is being hooked into that intersection. That road will serve Shadowrock and eventually Lane’s development.

The stoplight at that intersection was set up for travel from three directions. It now has to accommodate vehicles from a fourth side. While it won’t create a new stoplight, it will cause additional delays because another cycle will be necessary for traffic using Tree Farm Drive.

The light and associated work is supposed to be done by July 1.

Also in that vicinity, the town of Basalt and the Willits Town Center developers are considering construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Willits Lane and East Valley Road. It has not been determined if work will begin this year or next. It needs to be completed when Whole Foods opens in late 2009 or early 2010, per town approvals.

Two other public works projects are under way in El Jebel. Crown Mountain Park is adding final touches at the 120-acre green space located by the Eagle County Community Center. Property adjacent to the park is being eyed for a potential midvalley recreation center.

Over on J.W. Drive, in the heart of old El Jebel, Eagle County government is building a new maintenance facility for its road and bridge operation in the Roaring Fork Valley.

1. The three-way stoplight at Highway 82 and Willits Lane is being converted into a four-way stop because Tree Farm Drive, a new street, is connecting to that intersection. The work is scheduled to be completed by July 1.

2. The Shadowrock townhouse project is gearing up another phase. So far, 30 townhouses have been built. The project is approved for 100 units in all.

3. Ace Lane anticipates submitting a development application to Eagle County next month for his property near the water ski lake.

4. Joseph Freed and Associates is doing earth work associated with the next two buildings in the Willits Town Center, one being the Whole Foods Market building. The flurry of recent activity involved tucking an irrigation ditch into a culvert and preparing a stormwater system.

5. The town of Basalt and the developer of Willits are investigating construction of a roundabout at the intersection of Willits Lane and East Valley Road.

6. Final touches are being added to Crown Mountain Park. A BMX track will be added this summer to the park, which features ball diamonds, soccer fields, basketball and tennis courts and a popular playground.

7. A proposed development that mixes residential and commercial uses has been proposed at the old Fitzsimmon’s Amoco site, across Highway 82 from Wendy’s. The project enters the Eagle County review process next month.

8. Eagle County is building a new maintenance facility for its road and bridge department along J.W. Drive.


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