Snowmass Town Council, Nexus talk plans for Base Village Building 6

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
Developers project that construction of Building 6, along with a few other Base Village properties such as the Limelight Hotel and the "Lumin" condominiums, will be complete in November. The Snowmass Town Council is still deciding what should occupy the building, which developers will donate to the town once finished.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times |

In Snowmass Nexus’ ideal scenario, four programs and events would take place simultaneously, everyday from morning to night, inside the 8,701-square-foot Building 6 of Base Village.

A partnership between GrassRoots TV and Colorado Audio Visual and Design, Snowmass Nexus is the working name of the group vying to occupy and manage the town-owned, community-use building.

Michael Burns of Colorado Audio and Visual and John Masters with GrassRoots presented their business plan for the Nexus concept before the Snowmass Town Council at the tail end of a six-hour meeting Tuesday night.

“I know that we keep looking at the building as a whole, but the building is four separate things and four different events could be happening all at the same time within that space. And if we’re managing it correctly, (they) will all be happening at the same time,” Burns told the council. “There should be a broadcast going on at the same time as there’s a wedding going on downstairs or outside onto the patio deck while there’s a yoga class being set up.

“This should be a very vibrant and exciting building.”

Members of the Town Council on Tuesday inquired as to where a science and discovery center showcasing findings from the 2010-11 Ziegler Reservoir excavation fit into Nexus’ vision.

A home for the largest fossil discovery in Colorado, curated in partnership with the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies, was the town’s original intent for Building 6. While ACES on Sept. 5 declined to lead that project for financial reasons, members of the Town Council, Snowmass Discovery and community have articulated a desire to involve the discovery concept in some capacity.

Burns said Nexus has met with Snowmass Discovery officials, and part of their plan is to build them a “small (virtual reality)” space inside the facility.

He said the idea is to “make the information that they have a little more dynamic” while occupying a smaller area. The Snowmass nonprofit also could expand its programming or “use the whole building when it’s appropriate” for special occasions or events, Burns added.

“It’s an ongoing conversation. We just want the permission to be able to continue that conversation,” he said. “We are trying in earnest to make it work for everyone in the community.”

Since Base Village developers agreed to construct and donate Building 6 to the town as part of the project’s original approvals, the goal has been to “(create) more community-oriented spaces and gathering places,” according to a memorandum from Snowmass Town Manager Clint Kinney and assistant Travis Elliot.

“The town needs to increase utilization of existing community spaces by programing them with community-focused activities and exploring partnerships with organizations, such as Pitkin County Library, that create vitality.”

To that, Snowmass Nexus’ business plan outlines a “community-based live event, broadcast and digital arts center … to uniquely combine presentation, performance and creative spaces, both inside and outside of the facility, with video recording, broadcast and live digital distribution capability.” The proposal also requests $700,000 from the town “to help finance the building tenant finishes and startup costs,” according to the memorandum. Nexus said it would not request any ongoing operational subsidy from the town upon the building’s expected Nov. 1 completion.

At the end of Nexus’ presentation, Town Councilman Bill Madsen emphasized his desire to see the space used for educational purposes.

“I really think we should focus on climate change (and) I think the Ice Age Discovery gives us the perfect entree to do that. If you’re able to provide that level of education through dynamic virtual reality, that’s amazing,” Madsen said. “But I really think that needs to be our focus. We need to be able to talk about climate change. We have the resources, we have the physical specimens.”

Town Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk offered a similar idea and stressed the need for family programming.

“One of the reasons why I was so interested in (Snowmass) Discovery is because it’s amazing to begin with,” Shenk said. “But just the idea that it could really provide so much to families and children throughout Colorado and people coming here to see that.”

Burns said Snowmass Nexus is “on the same page.”

“There are enough adult attractions between Aspen and Snowmass,” he said. “We need more family-friendly things, and we are 100 percent behind that.”

Mayor Markey Butler said she needed more input from the community before knowing how best to move forward with Building 6.

Nexus’ next step is to develop a financial pro forma and start to reach out to prospective programming partners, Elliot said.

As of Thursday afternoon, the town had not yet set a date for its next meeting with Snowmass Nexus, according to Elliot. While the goal is to meet next month — possibly as early as a Feb. 12 work session — he said it would “depend on what Nexus can accomplish between now and then.”