Riverwalk owner will give it `one last shot’ | AspenTimes.com

Riverwalk owner will give it `one last shot’

The developer of the controversial Riverwalk proposal in Basalt decided Wednesday she will make a final attempt next week to work out a compromise with the Town Council.

“I’m taking one last shot because I want to see it as a park, not a parking lot,” said Frieda Wallison. “As a matter of civic responsibility, I feel we have to give it a last shot.”

Wallison is trying to get an application approved for a project that mixes commercial and residential uses on the last large undeveloped property in downtown Basalt. Riverwalk is on Midland Avenue, on the Fryingpan River across from the Catholic church.

The project has produced a significant number of supporters and detractors. It’s hailed by supporters as the boost that downtown Basalt needs to be an attractive commercial center.

Foes claim it will overwhelm the town’s main street with traffic, parked vehicles and sheer size.

Wallison’s proposal was for a 75,000-square-foot project separated into five buildings. The Town Council demanded Sept. 19 that Wallison and her company, Caddis Fly Partners LLC, cut the density by at least 10 percent.

In a major concession, Wallison notified town officials in a letter Wednesday that she’s willing to reduce the project by “approximately 10 percent.” But that’s as far as she can go, she claimed, and still maintain financial feasibility.

Her lengthy letter detailed how she will comply with most, if not all, of the conditions suggested by members of the council or town staff at the last meeting.

Wallison stressed that she’s trying to work with the town and has never presented a “take it or leave it” stance, as some council members have alleged.

In her letter to the town, Wallison wrote she will continue to make modifications to meet as many of the town’s concerns as possible.

“However, we cannot embark on a project which is not economically feasible – nor would our bank permit us to do so – in order to meet all the conditions expressed by the trustees at the last meeting,” she wrote.

Both Wallison and the Town Council have leverage in the negotiations. The Riverwalk property came with approvals for a different project when Wallison purchased it in March 1999. She can build that 43,463-square-foot project by simply obtaining a building permit.

But Wallison has repeatedly made it clear that she likes her proposal better. It preserves more than 60 percent of the property as park or open space and hides most parking underground. The existing approval features surface parking rather than park land.

The trade-off is her project requires greater density.

The council holds the ultimate leverage in being able to say no but still allowing Wallison to develop. Board members are well aware she doesn’t want to build the previously approved project.

Wallison said she needs a definitive answer from the council on her revised proposal next Tuesday.

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