Snowmass raises Related on community purpose offer for Base Village |

Snowmass raises Related on community purpose offer for Base Village

Jill Beathard
The Aspen Times

The Snowmass Village Town Council on Tuesday saw Related’s current offer and raised it $1 million for its community-purpose amenities in Base Village.

As part of its obligation to provide community benefit facilities, Related has proposed to build the shell of a home for the nonprofit Snowmass Discovery in the core of Base Village and bequeath it to the town. The building, as designed, would have two stories with space for exhibits, including potentially life-size models of the ice-age mammals that were discovered in Snowmass’ Ziegler Reservoir in 2010.

But some council members are concerned about the financial viability of a discovery center, saying last week they might want to open up that building to bids from other potential users. On Tuesday, they said they would be more comfortable if the developer contributed an additional $1 million — Related considers the contribution as proposed to be equivalent to $7 million — that the town could use for helping the tenant, whatever it may be, get started in the space.

Mayor Markey Butler and Councilman Bob Sirkus were concerned Tuesday about taking on the cost of owning the building, which Related estimated to be about $120,000. Sirkus and Butler agreed they wanted more assurance that Snowmass Discovery, or any nonprofit that would take over the space, would be a viable tenant.

“I have a strong concern about accepting the risk,” Sirkus said. “I don’t know how well or not well this council, future council, town staff can manage and operate a building as a landlord.”

Former Mayor Doug Mercatoris encouraged the council to look for ways to offset the operating costs, such as by remaining the lessor for the coffee shop space included in the building’s design. As proposed, Related would lease the space for $1 a year, but Craig Monzio, the company’s vice president of development, said it would alter that condition so that the town could obtain some revenue from that space’s tenant.

During the first stage of review of Related’s current application, which seeks to amend the current entitlements for Base Village, the developer and council had agreed on a cash amount that Related would bequeath the town to build its own community-purpose amenity, likely a discovery center. There is some support in the village for building a multi-use facility that would include Snowmass Discovery programming on the Point Site, a town parcel next to Town Hall. Sirkus said he wanted to hear more about that idea.

But Councilman Bill Madsen and Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk supported the council accepting the building in Base Village for Snowmass Discovery. Madsen said he believes that if the council throws its support behind the nonprofit, it will have more fundraising clout.

“If there had not been the discovery, would we be thinking about this in general?” Shenk said. “That discovery has spurred this line of thought of making it something central in Base Village.”

The variances requested should help Related be more successful in selling condo units, and so Butler pushed the developer on the dollar amount it would contribute for community purpose. Andrew Dance, a Related executive, said he would have to discuss the additional $1 million with his team but would have an answer for the council by next week.

Butler also suggested that Related consider contributing even more to the project.

“I would think it would be in the best interest of Related in overcoming some of the negative publicity … to consider doing a significant contribution back to the nonprofit as one of the lead donors,” Butler said.

The elected officials also pushed the Related team on access to a future pool for owners of condos in the first phase of Base Village, many of whom bought their units under the impression that an aqua center, the original community purpose facility approved for the project, would be built. Related was resistant to doing so because owners of that future building will be paying for the pool associated with it, but Dance and Monzio said they would create some sort of membership fee that other Base Village owners could participate in.