Review starts on third development plan on Basalt’s Pan and Fork site | AspenTimes.com

Review starts on third development plan on Basalt’s Pan and Fork site

Will the third time be a charm for a development proposal on the former Pan and Fork site in Basalt?

The latest plan by a third different developer formally entered the review process Tuesday evening when representatives of Basalt River Park LLC led a tour of the site for the Basalt Planning and Zoning Commission.

"The first thing to say is the premise of the development is there's a park here," said Tim Belinski, who is heading the development group.

Belinski's group has an option to purchase 2.32 acres of prime Basalt real estate from the Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. The property is along Two Rivers Road — between Midland Avenue and Rocky Mountain Institute's Innovation Center.

The property abuts a parcel of similar size that's already been converted into a park along the Roaring Fork River. Belinski's group is willing to sell 1.13 acres nearest the intersection of Midland Avenue and Two Rivers Road to the town to expand the park. The development would be confined to the western portion of the CDC property.

The components of the plan include:

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• Twenty-two rowhouses with 10 facing Two Rivers Road on the western side of the property and 12 units in duplexes facing the park on the Roaring Fork River.

• Six affordable-housing units adjacent to Two Rivers Road and east of the rowhouses.

• A 1,300-square-foot visitors' center for the Basalt Chamber of Commerce with a one-story, "prominent street-facing location."

• The Art Base, a community arts center, would have a 7,000-square-foot site with the potential for more space if it expanded to two stories.

• An 800-square-foot coffeehouse bistro with a 200-square-foot patio would overlook the park at the east end of the development.

• Two outdoor spaces would be included, one an open plaza to provide a tent-ready space for the Art Base as well as community activities not associated with the arts center, and a second space where a seasonal tent could be set up on public park property for community events.

Belinski said the project would provide an important connection into downtown from the RMI building and Roaring Fork Conservancy's River Center, which is under construction west of RMI.

The architecture of the residences and other buildings will be done in a way that makes an attractive gateway into Basalt, not a solid mass of walls, he vowed.

"There's no mega-mansion. There's no big house on the river," Belinski said.

Bill Kane, a member of the Art Base's board of directors, said the community arts center has strong commitments from donors to construct the facility if the project is approved.

"This is not hypothetical," he said.

Kris Mattera, executive director of the chamber of commerce, said her operation would better serve its members and Basalt visitors if it moved out of the cramped quarters in the little red caboose in Lions Park.

The site visit was quick moving with the intent to acquaint the planning commission members with the basic concept before they plow into the review July 17.

Two prior developers have failed to gain traction with their plans. The first developer, Realty Capital Management, was rejected by Basalt after the town hired a third party to perform a financial background check on the firm. The town government concluded the developer didn't have the financial wherewithal to complete a project.

Aspen-affiliated Lowe Enterprises put the property under contract next but got into a strange dance with the town government that ultimately went nowhere. Lowe wanted the council to say if its proposal was on the right track before it spent the money on a formal proposal. Most council members balked at saying much until a formal application was submitted and the review started. Lowe let its option lapse.

That opened the door for Belinski's team. The town planning staff said the plan by Basalt River Park LLC will go through the standard review process — two rounds of review each by the planning commission and Town Council. The planning commission makes advisory recommendations.

scondon@aspentimes.com