Last square deal in the valley for craftsmen, small businesses? |

Last square deal in the valley for craftsmen, small businesses?

A project billed as a last chance for artisans, craftsmen and small-business operators to buy affordable space in the Roaring Fork Valley earned approval from Eagle County recently.Steve Crowley and his Blue Crow LLC got the second of three approvals they needed to build a 92,500-square-foot project in Basalt. Crowley, a longtime cabinetmaker in the midvalley, has said he wants to give craftsmen and the like the same opportunity he had. The project will provide them with an alternative to relocating in Rifle or Silt to find something affordable, he has said.Market demand will dictate the mix that Crowley builds on his five acres next to the Basalt Design Center. The project, Willits Bend, calls for a small amount of retail and office space. The vast majority could be light industrial if the demand exists. Crowley also has the option to mix in up to 24,000 square feet of residential space, primarily on the second story of buildings.Crowley will use a variety of tools to market the industrial space to small businesses and to keep at least some of them affordable in future years, according to his attorney, David Myler.Crowley voluntarily instituted restrictions to give the small guy a chance to buy. For example, no single buyer can purchase more than 3,000 square feet per building during the first 120 days it is marketed, Myler said. If the demand from small buyers was “miscalculated,” then companies with larger demands can gobble the space.Other restrictions on how much space owners can combine per building are designed to provide “incubator space” for individuals and small businesses. The work spaces will be developed in 1,000-square-foot pods, with some potential to combine pods.”It cannot be combined into one or two big uses,” Myler said.Crowley is also using tools to try to prevent prices from spiraling out of reach of small businesses on 7,000 square feet of industrial space. If buyers of those units wants to resell with in five years, they can charge only what they paid plus the compounded consumer price index during that period, Myler said. The same rules apply to subsequent buyers. No restrictions would apply to resales after the same buyer holds the property for five or more years.Myler said the tools demonstrate Crowley’s sincerity in keeping the project affordable. “He’s standing behind what he said he wanted to do, which is to give an opportunity to people like him,” Myler said.Crowley must still get a third round of approval from Eagle County before he can start construction. Myler said it’s unknown at this time when that will go before the county.Eagle County is handling the review because Crowley’s property is a small pocket surrounded by the town of Basalt.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is

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