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Basalt wants its river park restaurant built sooner rather than later

One of the last big points on the review of the Basalt River Park project is timing of the construction of the restaurant, which is on the far right of the development in this architect's drawing.
Courtesy image

Basalt officials want a developer to commit to speeding up construction of a restaurant at the former Pan and Fork site before they complete final review of the project Tuesday night.

A development firm headed by longtime local businessman Tim Belinski has a plan that includes a 3,000-square-foot restaurant with a 1,500-square-foot deck. It would overlook the park along the Roaring Fork River just west of downtown Basalt.

Belinski proposed a phasing plan at the Feb. 11 council meeting that would allow construction of the restaurant to be delayed for as long as seven years, in the worst-case scenario. However, Belinski said at the meeting the goal would be to build all components of the 56,000-square-foot mix of residential and commercial uses as quickly as possible.

“It’s to our benefit to get in and out of this project as quickly as possible,” he said.

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“The time is right — now — to complete the project and move as quickly as possible.” — development team

Belinski’s team reinforced that point in a letter to the town in preparation for Tuesday’s meeting.

“From the developer’s standpoint, there is no incentive and no business reason to delay any of the work on this project,” the letter said. “The time is right — now — to complete the project and move as quickly as possible.”

The letter sought to address any “confusion” about the timing of the construction and the Art Base space, which also is part of the proposal.

“These projects can happen at any time within the phasing plan,” the letter said.

Nevertheless, the phasing plan identifies the restaurant and Art Base in phase three, which could take up to seven years.

The first phase is eight free-market residences, with a start of construction within two years after council approval. The second phase would be commercial space and four affordable housing units, with possible free-market homes.

Basalt Councilman Gary Tennenbaum said at the Feb. 11 meeting the community wants to see the project, and specifically the restaurant, become a reality sooner than later.

“What I have heard is people want this to happen,” he said.

Councilwoman Jennifer Riffle agreed that the public is eager for the Art Base and restaurant. They are the “sugar” of the project. The residential component is the “medicine,” she said.

“To have to take the medicine first and wait seven years to get the sugar, that’s a little bit sour,” Riffle said Feb. 11.

Despite reservations about the phasing plan, council approved the plan by a unanimous vote. A second reading and public hearing will be held Tuesday before the approval is complete.

Town Manager Ryan Mahoney said Friday the phasing would get a lot of the attention Tuesday night.

“I think that’s the big one,” he said.

Town staff is proposing the start of construction of the restaurant be triggered once eight housing units are completed or July 1, 2022, whichever comes first.

In addition, the town is proposing the restaurant site be prepared with a hard surface pad to accommodate three food trucks prior to construction of the permanent restaurant. The developer would be required to contract with at least one food truck to operate three days per week between June 15 and Sept. 15, until a building permit has been issued for the restaurant. Because of the permits required for the project, the food trucks wouldn’t be on site until 2021 at the earliest.

The public hearing and second reading for the project is scheduled to begin at 6:50 p.m. on Tuesday at Town Hall.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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