‘Long, bumpy road’ ending for Basalt project at Pan and Fork site | AspenTimes.com

‘Long, bumpy road’ ending for Basalt project at Pan and Fork site

This drawing shows how a 3,000-square-foot restaurant with deck will interact with open space at the Basalt River Park.
Courtesy image

A project at the Pan and Fork site earned unanimous final approval Tuesday night from the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission.

The site has been controversial for numerous reasons — residents of a former mobile home park were forced to leave, the town spent millions of dollars preparing the site for development and factions bickered for years over the proper mix of park and development.

In contrast, the final 7-0 vote by the planning commission was quick and the members were complimentary. No residents appeared to make public comment.

“It’s been a very long and bumpy road for everyone,” planning commission chairman Bill Maron said. “I think getting close to the end is a good thing.”

The project will now head to the Basalt Town Council for final review. Roaring Fork Valley businessman Tim Belinski heads the group that proposed the project.

Planning commission member Bernie Grauer, a former councilman, said Belinski’s plan compares favorably to what town officials have reviewed for the last “four, five or six years, which was all park or a wall of condominiums or a condominium-hotel.”

Instead the town is getting a “properly scaled combination” of residences, offices, nonprofit space and a restaurant as an anchor tenant, he said.

“This is much more fitting for our small-town character and use of that space by the river,” Grauer said. “Overall, I would give the project an A-, just because I am a hard (grader).”

Planning commissioner Gino Rossetti said he believes the project will be well received by the public.

“I am solidly behind this,” he said.

Belinski’s group is under contract to purchase 2.3 acres from the current owner, Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. The land is stacked along Two Rivers Road between the Rocky Mountain Institute Office and Midland Avenue. The town already owns a park adjacent to the property, along the Roaring Fork River. Belinski’s group will sell the town about 1 acre to enlarge the park.

Belinski’s development will feature a 3,000-square-foot restaurant situated on the eastern end of the development so it fits well with the park. Space will be saved for a permanent home for the Art Base, a community arts center. There will be 11,500 square feet of commercial development and office space. Belinski said the individual spaces would be small, thus attractive in the market. There will be 20 free-market residences and four deed-restricted affordable housing units. Bathrooms will be added to a nearby bus shelter.

There will be multiple pedestrian passages both from Two Rivers Road to the park and the length of the project. That provides the “porosity” that town officials requested, according to Robin Schiller, the project architect from CCY Architects.

The project, formally called Basalt River Park, will “connect the downtown to a vibrant neighborhood to the river, enhancing and supporting Basalt’s small-town character,” Schiller said.

The residences and office building will be constructed as phase one, according to minutes of a prior planning commission meeting. The restaurant and Art Base will be a later phase.

When asked after the meeting why his project sailed through the review process after so many years of public fights over the site, Belinski replied, “It’s a good project.”

If all goes as planned, construction will begin in fall 2020, he said.