Related WestPac under fire in Snowmass |

Related WestPac under fire in Snowmass

SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” Base Village builder Related WestPac took some hard shots from residents and town officials Monday.

Snowmass Village residents at a Town Council meeting Monday expressed concern over everything from the company’s apparent monopoly on retail space to traffic troubles caused by the incomplete Base Village development. And, Town Council members said they are worried that Related WestPac officials are building first and asking questions later.

Snowmass Village retailers filed a petition recently claiming the company was pushing them out, and Kay Honigman-Singer, a representative of a handful of business owners, used words like “railroaded” and “blackmailed” Monday night to describe alleged Related WestPac tactics. She said company officials are raising rents and excluding existing businesses from retail space on the mall by raising rents.

“They’re being forced out of the village,” Honigman-Singer. “The Town Council is giving false hope to the community that they will have the power to do anything.”

Maureen Poschman, a public relations representative working for Related WestPac, called the allegations “blatant misrepresentations” and said the company would not “negotiate in public” about rents on new retail space at Base Village.

Matt Foley, director of commercial leasing for Related WestPac, said Base Village rents will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis, and no one is being excluded or guaranteed a spot.

“We understand there is lot concern in the retail community,” said Scott Stenman, vice president of construction for Related WestPac. “The entire mall can’t move down to Base Village.”

The Town Council also took the company to task.

“It’s a respect issue, and your company continues to do this to our town,” said Councilman Reed Lewis, who was upset over minor construction changes the company made prior to council approval, and what he called “piecemealing” amendments to the million-square-foot build.

Councilman Arnie Mordkin said the company’s actions made the Town Council “look like idiots,” and he reminded company representatives that they could only build what has been approved.

A Related WestPac attorney asked Lewis to recuse himself from a discussion of a development amendment, claiming that Lewis threatened to “make it difficult” when a company official tried to collect overdue rent. (Lewis pays rent to Related WestPac for his liquor store.)

Town attorney John Dresser called the claim “bald hearsay” and said the choice to recuse himself was up to Lewis.

“That was low-handed,” Lewis said later, claiming he promptly paid the rent and had not threatened Related WestPac.

And Lewis did not recuse himself from the discussion in which the council unanimously shot down the first reading for a minor Base Village building amendment.

Related WestPac officials also asked for permission to hang temporary banners to shield the ongoing construction from traffic and advertise the town and the builder.

Some in the audience called the plan “appalling” and “blatant billboard advertising,” and Mordkin called the proposed signs “antithetical” to community standards.

“We have not been trying to pull a fast one on anyone in this town,” Stenman said of the sign plan, adding that the town planning board already approved the signs.

Town council members voted unanimously to deny the new signs.

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