Long time coming: Stott’s Mill project breaks ground after years of delays
Project is likely last big residential development in Basalt
Talk about a comeback.
A project that likely will be the last large residential development in Basalt broke ground this month 12 years after the Great Recession knocked it to the back burner.
A company called MSP Development Group will build 64 apartments in four buildings and sell 49 single-family home and duplex lots in a project known as Stott’s Mill. The 18-acre site is between the Southside neighborhood and Basalt High School.
It’s one of the last large, undeveloped parcels in Basalt, said Stefan Peirson, a real estate adviser with Engel & Volkers Aspen, the firm with the exclusive listing for the residential lots.
“This is as big as Basalt is going to get,” Peirson said. For that reason, he’s expecting strong demand.
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Basalt has lots of undeveloped ground on its southern side but nearly all of it has conservation easements that prohibit extensive development.
The Cerise ranch directly upvalley from Stott’s Mill and the Grange family ranch directly downvalley are both conserved through deals arranged by Pitkin County Open Space and Trails. The Meyer family ranch east of Elk Run subdivision has an expanse of undeveloped land, but the Basalt master plan calls for limited development.
That puts Stott’s Mill in prime position to take advantage of current market trends, Peirson said. He’s already talked to potential buyers who are interested in moving from the adjacent Southside neighborhood, moving up from downvalley to be closer to Aspen or are downsizing from Aspen and want something new. All types of buyers are attracted by the opportunity to build their home rather than pay the hefty prices for existing inventory, Peirson said.
“These are not people who have millions in the bank,” he said.
A limited number of vacant lots are being offered for sale right now. Prices range from $150,000 to $500,000. MSP is keeping roughly half of the lots off the market for now.
The development group headed by Briston Peterson first sought approvals in the early 2000s and, after a lengthy review process, secured them in January 2010 — as the Great Recession steamrolled the Roaring Fork Valley and led to tightening of lending by banks.
The delay since the initial approval appears to be fortuitous for the development group. The inventory of homes is extremely low in the Roaring Fork Valley and the demand soared in 2020 due to people fleeing urban areas because of the pandemic and social unrest.
“The timing is perfect,” Peirson said. “It’s perfect from the sheer lack of inventory. People want houses. People want the locations closer to Aspen.”
MSP Development Group will construct and own the four apartment buildings, Peirson said. The firm will sell the residential lots, and buyers will develop homes within general design guidelines.
Four of the residential lots are deed restricted for affordable housing and another three lots are reserved for the Roaring Fork RE-1 School District. In addition, 19 of the 64 multi-family residences will be rent-controlled.
The lot sizes range from 3,360 to 9,821 square feet, with some at 5,040 and 6,720. There are only 13 of the larger lots. The long, narrow lots were envisioned to accommodate row houses.
During the review prior to the 2008 approval, the project was pitched as “affordable by design.” The smaller lot sizes were intended to keep prices lower. The market has changed substantially in 13 years, so small doesn’t necessarily mean inexpensive. During the review, the development firm agreed to a Real Estate Transfer Assessment of 1% on sales prices below $1 million and 2% on those above.
Another strong selling point is the amenities that come with the subdivision. There is a passive park separating Stott’s Mill from Southside. There also is a park on the south end of Stott’s Mill that features basketball, tennis and pickle ball courts. The development also is adjacent to the Rio Grande Trail. The project logo features the phrase, “Mindful living on the Rio Grande.”
Peirson said streets, sidewalks and utilities will be installed in the first phase, which will last until late 2021. Construction on multi-family and single-family units will start immediately after the infrastructure work is complete.
“The market doesn’t want vacant land,” Peirson said. “The market wants finished product.”
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Aspen High School’s class of 2021 graduated with high grades and high aspirations after four years of high expectations, according to an exit survey presented to the district’s Board of Education last week.