Aspen Skiing Co. tweaks Basalt housing plan but lobbies for original alternative |

Aspen Skiing Co. tweaks Basalt housing plan but lobbies for original alternative

This image shows where Aspen Skiing Co. is proposing an affordable housing project in Willits Town Center. Whole Foods is in the upper center of the photo. Highway 82 is on the upper end. Willits Lane is off the photo on the bottom end.
Courtesy image


In addition to consideration of the Aspen Skiing Co. workforce housing project, the Basalt Town Council is scheduled to renew review of the Basalt River Park sketch plan application.

That’s the project proposed on the Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. property adjacent to Rocky Mountain Institute.

A development group headed by businessman Tim Belinski has proposed 27,055 square feet of residential space in 23 units. They are a mix of micro units, two- and three-bedroom apartments and River Cabins.

The project also features 27,000 square feet of commercial space.

The council discussion is scheduled for Tuesday at 6:50 p.m.

Aspen Skiing Co. has refined its proposal for affordable housing at Willits to respond to comments from the Basalt Town Council, but Skico officials are still lobbying for their original plan with a minor tweak.

The council is scheduled to resume review of Skico’s workforce housing plan Tuesday evening. On May 14, council members said they wanted to see more parking and a development more in character with Willits Town Center.

Skico is asking the council to consider two alternatives — one that is close to the original and an amended project that tries to answer the council members’ concerns.

“As you will note, achieving the changes you asked for comes with trade-offs: in the case of Alternative 2, a reduction in the number of beds for Aspen Skiing Company employees, a loss of most of the child care worker units, the addition of more cars (as parking), as well as more commercial square footage at Willits, where vacancy rates are climbing,” Skico project manager Philip Jeffreys wrote in a memo to the town outlining the revisions.

He said Skico wants the town to choose between Alternative 1 and Alternative 2 rather than picking components from each of them and blending, which the Jeffreys said “is not feasible.”

He also said Skico must “respectfully convey a sense of urgency. We do not own this land. The seller has given us six months for due diligence, a period that is expiring soon.”

Alternative 1 is close to the original proposal. It has 36 units with 148 bedrooms. The units range in size from one to six bedrooms.

There are 34 off-street parking spaces and 33 on-street parking spaces. Skico tweaked the proposal by offering to buy the on-street parking spaces from the town for $202,000.

The proposal includes eight units with rent caps that would go to workers outside of Skico. The priority for the rental units would be child care workers.

The other 28 units would help Skico meet its demand for housing its workers.

Alternative 2 adjusts the number of units and adds an underground parking garage for 77 vehicles. Skico would reduce the number of rent-controlled units from eight to two. It would eliminate six-bedroom units from its housing mix and convert them to four-bedroom units.

The amended project would have 38 units with 146 bedrooms. In addition, commercial space fronting Robinson Street would be restored. In Alternative 1, the commercial space is converted to residential.

“Staff believes that Alternative 2 is more consistent with the character and original intent of the Willits Town Center PUD as it contains commercial on the first floor and parks the residential development on-site and off-street,” said a memo to the council from the planning staff.

Skico’s preferred alternative has faced extensive neighborhood opposition in hearing thus far. Several members of the public who spoke at the May 14 meeting opposed allowing use of on-street parking for the project.

Whatever route the council goes, one thing is certain — the site will eventually be developed even if Skico walks away. That specific block within Willits is approved for ground-floor commercial space with 93 free-market residential units in upper floors. It could be home to as many as 279 people.

The town has scheduled another public hearing on the project Tuesday night. Discussion is scheduled to begin at 7:50 p.m.