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Snowmass starts summer of construction

Joel Stonington
Activity continues on the Snowmass Village mall Sunday. (Mark Fox/The Aspen Times)
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This is not exactly the summer of peace and quiet in Snowmass.As the stage went up on Fanny Hill for the third annual Chili and Brew Festival on Friday, the sounds of construction were overwhelming. The noise came from the base, where backhoes, dump trucks and other big machines are working on the hole that will become Base Village. As Snowmass kicks off summer with more events than ever before – Chili and Brew Festival, Snowmass Rodeo, Friday night outdoor movies, Thursday free music series – there is an air of cautious optimism about all the construction going on at Base Village and elsewhere in Snowmass. Early signs point to the idea that the mall may suffer more than the Snowmass Center, where restaurants are noting an uptick in offseason sales from construction workers buying meals.

“It’s a huge offseason benefit to us to have the project going,” said Chuck Zeitz, owner of the Wildcat Cafe in Snowmass Center. Because the cafe is a sit-down restaurant, it is getting many planners and managers who have accounted for roughly 25 extra meals a day. “It’s the difference between really taking an offseason beating and sort of taking an offseason beating,” he said. The Village Market, the supermarket at Snowmass Center, has noticed no major change in sales during the last few months. Manager J. Potter commented said the store’s 6 percent increase in sales is average from year to year. The mall tends to get more tourist activity while the Snowmass Center sees a larger percentage of locals. So construction on certain condominiums has a greater affect on the mall while road and bike path closures tend to affect Snowmass Center.”I’m waiting to see how the summer goes,” said Stacy “Taster” Forster, owner of Taster’s in Snowmass Center, who also noted that construction has been good for business so far. “We’ve never had a project of this size in full swing.”

Up in the mall, there wasn’t nearly the positive attitude about construction. Though most people said it’s still to early to tell what the affect will be, there is a bit more apprehension. “A lot of tourists are in mass confusion on how to get here,” said Julie Schopper, a manager for Gene Taylor Sporting Goods, who commended Snowmass publicity representatives for getting so much to happen in town. “You’re going to have to bring in big events to make people want to go through the construction.”Schopper also mentioned that she had hoped the six-pack chairlift would run, and was disappointed that rides on the open lift are not free. That will affect bike rentals and sales, as will the fact that parts of Brush Creek Trail have been closed down for construction. Even so, store and restaurant owners are optimistic for a good summer in Snowmass, regardless of the constant construction. “Since they started Base Village, we haven’t seen a lack of business,” said Rob Carney, manager of the Paradise Bakery, on the mall. “Come talk to me in August: I might have a different story for you. So far, it’s been the same.”

He said the construction workers aren’t coming up the hill to buy meals at the mall, so there has been no change on that side of things. Mostly, his summer business comes from conferences in Snowmass.This year, 43 groups are registered to come, from the Colorado Petroleum Marketers to the Texas Veterinarian Medical Association to the Colorado Association of Public Employees. “There are still 50 percent of people in Snowmass Village who didn’t want this project,” said Wildcat Cafe owner Zeitz. “I empathize with those people. But it’s a double-edged sword – we couldn’t survive on locals alone.”Joel Stonington’s e-mail is jstonington@aspentimes.com


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