Senior community approved in Basalt | AspenTimes.com

Senior community approved in Basalt

A project that eventually could add 96 residences, 30 assisted-living units and 24 skilled-nursing units for senior citizens in Basalt received final approval from the Town Council on Tuesday night.

The board voted 6-0 to approve the Aspen Valley Foundation's Continuing Care and Retirement Community.

The project has been under review for about one year. Kris Marsh, executive director of the foundation, recalled how Basalt Mayor Jacque Whitsitt said there was "love" for the project among the council members when the concept was first introduced.

"I remember the love from the first meeting, and I never forgot it," Marsh said.

One of the major sticking points during review was the foundation’s request for exemption from the town’s affordable-housing requirements. The town code required 39 housing units. Foundation representative Richard Shaw, of Design Workshop, said providing those units would make the project fiscally infeasible.

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The project will include 78 independent-living units, including 52 in the first phase. There also will be 18 cottages, with 12 in the first phase.

As residents age and their needs change, they can transfer into 30 assisted-living units, including 20 in the first phase, and 24 skilled-nursing units, including 12 in the first phase.

Throughout the review process, the representatives for the foundation said the project is needed because so many seniors in the Roaring Fork Valley must move away to find the care they need as they age.

The project will be located on the 18-acre Stott's Mill property in Basalt's Southside neighborhood, to the north of Basalt High School.

One of the major sticking points during review was the foundation's request for exemption from the town's affordable-housing requirements. The town code required 39 housing units. Foundation representative Richard Shaw, of Design Workshop, said providing those units would make the project fiscally infeasible.

Basalt officials eventually proposed an alternative — to raise funds for construction of affordable housing by applying a real estate transfer assessment onto the contracts that residents of the facility will sign. Based on earlier discussions, each contract could approach $1 million in the initial offering.

Basalt would bank the money from its assessment and contribute to affordable-housing projects.

Basalt Councilman Rob Leavitt couldn't attend Tuesday's meeting, but he appealed to the other board members to require the Aspen Valley Foundation to give preference to Basalt residents on 12 of the independent-living units. He said it would be doing the council's constituents a service.

Shaw objected to the requirement. He said it would create a marketing challenge. The council rejected Leavitt's proposal, in part because it was raised so late in the process. Town Manager Mike Scanlon suggested that the town government could put out a special newsletter when the units are ready to be offered so that Basalt residents could take action, assuming they have the financial wherewithal.

The approval also calls on the Aspen Valley Foundation to sell property within its project to a day care provider for $80,000. The town government agreed to pay the difference in the land cost to the foundation, up to $40,000.

In other action Tuesday night, the council tabled discussion on whether to extend temporary bans on sales of medical and recreational marijuana. Scanlon urged the board to take up discussion at a meeting next week with a less crowded agenda.

scondon@aspentimes.com

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