Snowmass approves Viceroy Hotel
Snowmass Village correspondent
Aspen, CO Colorado
SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” It took six months of debate and negotiations, but development of a Viceroy Hotel won approval Monday from the Snowmass Village Town Council.
The council approved Kor Hotel Group’s plan to build and operate the hotel off Wood Road in the resort’s burgeoning Base Village by a 3-1 vote with Councilman Arnie Mordkin dissenting.
“In my 35 years of development experience, this is the most arduous, complicated and strenuous negotiation that I’ve ever been through,” said Pat Smith, president of Base Village developer Related WestPac. “At the end of the day, we have a win-win situation. Now, we can use this momentum to achieve the community’s goal of accelerating the construction at Base Village to compress the timeframe for completion.”
The approval allows a 256-room Viceroy Hotel to move ahead and complete the excavation that is currently under way between Wood Road and Assay Hill. That excavation has proceeded with an at-risk permit. Now, Related WestPac will ask for an at-risk foundation permit while the town’s Planning Department completes a review of the architectural plans and building code review for the new structure. The $130 million hotel is expected to be constructed in less than two years.
Related WestPac received approval for the new Viceroy Hotel by agreeing to build a new 250-key hotel in West Village (as the revamped Snowmass Mall is being called), with 10,000 square feet of conference facilities, between now and 2017. The new conference hotel must be operated by a name-brand hotel group, under the terms of the deal. If the facility is not built by 2017, Related WestPac will pay Snowmass Village $8 million. In addition, the new hotel must be built within the first half of whatever is ultimately constructed in West Village, though no formal proposals are yet on the table. A targeted review of Snowmass Village’s Comprehensive Plan is under way to determine the town’s position on what should be built there.
The Viceroy decision has been a long time in coming. When Related WestPac purchased Base Village from Intrawest and the Aspen Skiing Co. late last year, a previous agreement with Westin Hotels to build and operate a hotel on that site had been terminated. Related WestPac discussed the proposed hotel with numerous hotel groups but settled on the less well-known Kor Hotel Group and its Viceroy brand. During the six months it took to gain approval, Related WestPac convinced numerous groups and residents throughout town that the Kor Hotel Group was an aggressive, up-and-coming hotel operator that competes favorably with name-brand hotels.
But not everyone saw the Viceroy approval as a win for the town. Councilman Arnie Mordkin called the approval “a travesty.” In Mordkin’s opinion, the town was sold the idea of a name-brand hotel on that Base Village site and approved variances in height, mass and scale only because it was going to be a name-brand hotel. Mordkin and others say they believe a name-brand hotel operator in Base Village is necessary in order to create enough “hot beds” in Base Village.
Two consultants, one hired by Related WestPac, one hired by the town, determined that the Kor Hotel Group competes favorably against the name-brand hotels which exist in the markets where there are other Viceroy Hotels. The consultants also liked the Kor Hotel Group’s aggressive management style and operations.
While new restaurants enter the Aspen scene, there are several spaces that will remain empty this winter. Meanwhile, the retail market remains extremely hot.