Snowmass OKs Little Nell Residences
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
SNOWMASS VILLAGE ” The Snowmass Town Council finally approved all requested changes for The Little Nell Residences Snowmass on Tuesday night in a 4-1 vote, with Councilman Reed Lewis dissenting.
The approval means Related WestPac will have three projects to build this spring: The Little Nell Residences Snowmass, the two Viceroy Resort and Residences buildings and a transportation center.
Approval for changes such as a relocated fitness area, better access to the medical clinic and an increase in some unit sizes came after a long discussion before an audience from the Aspen Skiing Co., Related WestPac, and contractor CFC/PCL, among others. Later in the meeting, the council also unanimously approved a lot split for the project.
“It’s a big day for us,” said Related WestPac Vice President of Development Scott Stenman, just before he headed out to celebrate. “It’s nice to get that behind us and now we have a lot of work to do.”
The luxury Base Village project will be built by Related WestPac and managed by the Aspen Skiing Co.’s The Little Nell, a five-star hotel. A similar project opened at the base of Aspen Mountain last week.
Related WestPac has been asking for changes to The Little Nell Residences Snowmass for several months, arguing it needs approval for the changes before it can begin building the residences ” or obtain financing in an increasingly tight credit market. Since last fall’s financial crisis, when several of its investors pulled out, the developer has been financing the below-grade construction for which it had permits, by itself.
In January, council members said they wouldn’t approve The Little Nell Residences Snowmass changes unless Related WestPac completed a transportation center to allow valley buses to access Base Village.
Related WestPac agreed, and officials have since spent several town meetings hashing out details that include a façade, elevators, escalators, bathrooms and a $2 million bond to guarantee the project. On Tuesday, it also promised to spend an additional $50,000 on art for the transportation center. That number was bumped up from $20,000 after Councilwoman Markey Butler protested.
Now that the developer has approvals for The Little Nell Residences Snowmass, it must find financing.
“We’re actively talking to several lenders as well as some mezzanine equity investors,” said Stenman, after the meeting. Related WestPac hopes to have the financing in place by the end of spring, he said.
Questioned during the meeting about the company’s ability to obtain construction financing in today’s market, Chief Operating Officer Dwayne Romero noted the company had already pre-sold 14 of the 27 units, and just put two more under contract. “In a perverse way, there is some optimism there,” he said.
Stenman expected the company might be able to have permits for the above-ground structure by the beginning of March, he said ” just in time, since workers were running out of work they could do below-grade, he said. Until it obtains outside financing, Related WestPac will continue to fund construction itself, said Stenman.
Related WestPac also expects to begin work on the second building of the Viceroy Resort and Residences by the beginning of March, according to Stenman. It will also continue work on the first building.
Work on the transportation center will likely begin in May, Stenman said.
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