Related secures first vote on Snowmass Base Village vesting app
The Aspen Times
Related Colorado secured the first nod on its application to extend Base Village vesting Monday when the Snowmass Village Town Council voted in favor of it, 3-2.
The vote, the first of two the elected officials will take on the application, came after a lengthy discussion of some of the details of what Related is proposing. Related is asking the town to extend its protected development rights past their Nov. 3 expiration date and in exchange is agreeing to a set of milestones it must meet in order to keep them.
It also is providing financial guarantees on public aspects of the project and, in a change since the last council meeting, on the second phase of the Viceroy hotel. Related is agreeing to pay $1,500 up to an aggregate of $1 million for every day that the building remains unfinished past its agreed-upon completion date of Dec. 31, 2016.
Dwayne Romero, president of Related Colorado, said his company understood that financial security was “an essential element of trust.” He also said he believes the council’s mistrust lies with Related and not with the other developers now getting involved in the project. Aspen Skiing Co. and Sunrise Co. have agreed to develop lots in the core of Base Village if the town grants the vesting extension.
Councilman Fred Kucker led the elected officials’ review of the agreements, which had been amended since the last council meeting. One of those changes was to the “force majeure” clause, which as originally proposed would have protected Related from missing milestones due to unanticipated events such as fire, labor disputes or weather.
The Community Development Department was resistant to include that clause in the agreements, and Kucker attacked it at the last council meeting. The language Related proposed Monday, however, placed the definition of a force majeure event in the council’s discretion, which the elected officials supported.
Alternative shot down
Related’s application also included an extension of one year if the council does not approve its next application, which will propose amendments to much of the overall project, by May 31. Town Attorney John Dresser suggested that the agreement should specify that the council needed to take action on the application by that date, not be required to approve it.
Romero thought that was too vague on what the outcome would be if the application was denied, leading to a lengthy discussion of the possibilities of that scenario. Councilman Jason Haber said it felt like the town was automatically signing up for a one-year delay on the milestones by agreeing to review the application in less than eight months and questioned, as before, whether the council should see those plans before extending vesting.
The Town Council could temporarily extend the Base Village vesting for six months, allow Related to submit those plans and have them reviewed and grant a long-term extension based on the new construction schedule, Dresser said.
That would allow the town to grant vesting based on a current application, not on the approvals that stand now, which neither the town nor the developer wants to see built, Haber said.
“It’s a more appropriate land-use process,” Haber said.
Councilwoman Markey Butler disagreed.
“What message are we sending to our business owners?” Butler said. She expanded that to include guests and investors, too.
Romero said Related would agree to terminate the vesting if its next application is denied. However, that proposal depends on the involvement of Skico and Sunrise, and both of those companies predicated their agreements to purchase in Base Village on the town granting the vesting extension.
“If I don’t have the vesting extension, I honestly don’t know who the participants will be and what the scope of the submissions will be, and I don’t know if the submission will come together,” Romero said.
Kucker took Romero’s side, saying that the developers and investors were entitled to have the securities they were asking for.
During the public hearing, resident Arnold Mordkin said he thought Related’s agreement to terminate in the case of denial was a game changer until Romero said the company wouldn’t agree to include the buildings already started — some unfinished — in that.
“Nobody really cares about 13B (the second Viceroy building),” Mordkin said. “What you care about is the platform. What you care about is the ugly thing.”
Resident Scott Calliham, also a Base Village business owner, said he disagreed with the idea put forth by some that Related should “fix the ugly parts first.”
“I think you could argue that it’s all ugly right now,” he said, adding that progress on some buildings shouldn’t be held up because some wanted to finish others first.
The council and Related also agreed to extend the vesting by just four years rather than four and an additional year contingent on Related meeting milestones, as was initially proposed. That means that completion of construction on Lot 2, where Skico plans to build its hotel, would move up a year to 2018.
The council’s next reading of the application is Sept. 22.
The Aspen City Council directed staff to move forward with the Burlingame early childhood education center, but decided it needs more information on the affordable housing units that are part of the schematic design at a work session Monday.