Snowmass: One garage or two? |

Snowmass: One garage or two?

Sarah S. Chung

Though significant changes to plans for a Snowmass Village transit plaza are still being discussed, it’s crunch time if officials want to seek bids on the project this fall.

The latest proposal calls for two separate, three-level parking structures and a mass-transit plaza at a cost of $16.3 million. But that price tag led to consideration of a new alternative – a single four-story garage and transit plaza next to the Snowmass Mall.

“There’s a difference between wants and needs, and the reality is that the money’s not there,” said Town Councilman Jack Hatfield during a discussion on the proposal Thursday.

Building a single garage could save $3.5 to $4 million.

Time and money are critical factors, given the town’s desire to start construction in spring 2001. To meet that timeline, the town must seek bids by this fall, and that means a financing plan must be in place by mid-July.

“If we lose another construction season, that’s adding 10 percent to money we already don’t have,” said Jeffery Severy, treasurer of the Snowmass Village Resort Association.

Though SVRA board members hinted that the private-sector contribution to the project could grow, right now the town has $10 million with which to work. That includes $7 million in bonding capacity, to be paid from the town’s portion of the .5 percent county transportation tax; $2 million from the town’s real estate transfer tax; and $1 million from the private sector.

The single-garage alternative offers a total of 641 parking spaces, as opposed to 616 in two structures. But two garages allows one structure near the transit plaza/mall and one to serve the lodges below the mall.

Discussions of a transit plaza in Snowmass have been ongoing since 1984 – and always with the nagging suspicion that a better location for the facility is a future Base Village development.

Yesterday, however, Aspen Skiing Co. officials tried to put that notion to rest, once and for all. Equating the placement of a transit plaza at Base Village as “forgoing beach-front property,” Skico Vice President Bill Kane said the plaza belongs at the mall. And the company, which has acquired the Base Village property for development, simply doesn’t want it.

“Base Village is about 15 net developable acres. We don’t have any intention or interest in trying to compete with the commercial activity at the mall. … Our emphasis will be on providing beds and enhancing skier services,” Kane said.

At the close of yesterday’s discussion, representatives of the town and private sectors agreed on the need to move the project along and not miss next spring’s construction season – both to save money and to stay competitive with other ski resorts.

“In terms of the skier experience, right now the competition is eating our lunch. I don’t want to wait while everyone else in Colorado and the industry outspends us,” Severy said.

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