Snowmass ready to play hard ball against developer
July 4, 2009
SNOWMASS VILLAGE – Withholding the certificate of occupancy on the Viceroy Hotel could be one remedy the town of Snowmass Village uses to get Related WestPac to fulfill its financial and operational obligations to the community, Town Manager Russell Forrest said Thursday.
The town contends it’s owed in excess of $640,000 from the developer, for everything from attorney, planning and building fees to police-alarm permits and the Town Hall access road.
The town will outline a plan of possible remedies the developer could provide during a public meeting Monday evening. Elected officials convened three times in executive session during June to come up with some proposed fixes to the slow-down and termination of work progress in Base Village.
“This is in no way a reflection on the people who work” in the Village for Related WestPac, Russell emphasized. By the same token he noted that, “Our first charge is to protect the interests of the community.” Related WestPac is not willing to comment on possible remedies for Base Village work until Monday’s meeting with Town Council, said spokesman Steve Alldredge.
According to a staff memo co-written by Forrest and Community Development Director Chris Conrad, the town is operating on the premise that “the developer will fulfill certain obligations and does not get to build or open what they want until certain public improvements are completed. This strategy unfortunately is not effective when the developer loses their capability and commitment to move forward with any development on the project.”
While work continues on the Viceroy, forward movement has stopped on buildings 7 (the arrival center), 8 (Little Nell-Snowmass) and 13B (phase two of the Viceroy). According to the memo, if work doesn’t begin by today on Building 7, then the developer will receive a default notice; they’ll have two weeks to cure the default.
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The town is holding a $2 million performance bond on the arrival center that could be used to complete its temporary exterior facade. But it appears that the building won’t be usable by ski season, which means that Roaring Fork Transpiration Authority bus users won’t have direct access to Base Village; instead they’ll have to either ski down from the Snowmass Mall, take the Skittles lift or ride the Village Shuttle to reach the base area.
It has no remedies in place for the incomplete Nell nor 13B, the latter building needed to provide parking for the first phase of the Viceroy. Hypo Bank, the project’s primary lender, has not released additional funds so they can be completed, according to Forrest. One option that could be exercised, according to the town manager, is creating an Urban Renewal Authority that would pave the way to condemnation and possibly the assumption of a private partner in order to complete the work.
Other areas where the town believes the developer is not meeting its obligations center around construction of a roundabout, improvements to Wood Road and the release of five Base Village deed-restricted units, employee housing mitigation for Base Village.
While shortening the length of vesting, or the time the developer has to complete the project, has been contemplated, there appears to be a sentiment that this would make Related WestPac’s assets harder to sell. And that would could be contrary to the town’s goal of completing the project within its deadlines.