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Snowmass Town Center redevelopment final plan gets OK from council

A birdseye view of the proposed Snowmass Center redevelopment project as presented to Town Council on Oct. 19, 2020.
Town of Snowmass Village/courtesy photo

It was a vote (almost) a year in the making.

After nearly an hour of council questions and public comment Monday night, Snowmass Town Council unanimously approved an ordinance on the final redevelopment plans for Snowmass Center — just two days shy of the proposal’s one-year anniversary under council review.

The proposal to revamp the aging town hub was first introduced to Town Council on Nov. 4 last year, when current Snowmass Center owners Eastwood Snowmass Investors presented plans to transform the home of Clark’s Market and the post office into an expansive commercial center and residential development.

It’s a significant undertaking by the numbers: the proposal includes plans for a new shuttle transit center, 21 acres open space, a 2.1 acre community park, as much as 58,422 square feet of commercial space (including 4,000 square feet of new Post Office space) and as many as 64 free-market, multi-family housing units and 10 restricted housing units. The plan also includes a $750,000 “community purpose” fund for use at the town’s discretion.

Though no closures are planned for the town’s post office and grocery store, the redevelopment project will inevitably bring changes for the businesses currently located in the Center.

“This is a complex site and there will be impacts — I don’t want to sugarcoat that,” said Jessica Garrow, a senior-level planner at Design Workshop. But, Garrow added, the team has been hard at work to ensure that patrons of Snowmass Center businesses still have access to the things they need.

It’s been a long road to this point for Eastwood Snowmass Investors to reach this approval; the developers’ proposal has been a work in progress with town agencies for nearly three years, including the past 12 months under council review.

Plans underwent significant changes this spring in response to concerns about the project’s mass, scale and density; among the adjustments was the replacement of two buildings with a community park.

But since the preliminary plans were approved in May, most modifications to the plan have been “refinements,” Eastwood Snowmass Investors Principal Jordan Sarick said in a phone interview Monday night after the meeting.

“It’s been a very long process,” Sarick said. “We were really pleased with the review tonight.”

“Refinements” were largely the topic of conversation at Monday’s council meeting, too. Council members posed several questions related to phasing of the project and homeowners’ association logistics in the residential development. Minor modifications also were introduced, adding provisions for a Rim Trail connector to details on community purpose offerings and clarifying a handful of words in the ordinance for accuracy.

But council spent the most time exploring the possibility of different retaining wall materials that might create a softer, more welcoming entrance to the new center.

“I would really like to see something done to make that a little more interesting than just a block of concrete,” Councilman Bob Sirkus noted.

Mayor Markey Butler requested that developers bring a proposal for alternate retaining wall materials to council when public hearings continue Nov. 9.

Just how much the entire project will cost to build isn’t clear yet. Though specific estimates are available for specific projects related to public improvements, the developers’ 648-page plan doesn’t include an estimate that includes all components of the redevelopment.

Arriving at that number is still a ways off, Snowmass Center redevelopment project team member Kathleen Wanatowicz said in a phone interview.

“It comes down to the nuts and bolts of the project,” Wanatowicz said.

Eastwood Snowmass Investors still has hurdles to clear before the toolboxes come out: pending approval of the ordinance’s second reading in Town Council later this month, developers are still looking at upward of a year in the permitting process before they can break ground. The first phases of the redevelopment will include three to five years of work on the commercial center before later phases, like residential development, kick into high gear.

“To paraphrase Winston Churchill,” Sarick told council, approval at the second reading would be “the end of the beginning” for the project.

“Is there a world in which we could start a year from now?” Sarick said. “Possibly.”

kwilliams@aspentimes.com


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