Blumenthal: Still in the ring on Base Village | AspenTimes.com

Blumenthal: Still in the ring on Base Village

Mel Blumenthal
Second View

Mel Blumenthal

It was Butler vs. Monzio at the Town Council meeting a week ago, and Butler came out the victor.

With a bit of help from Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk and absolutely no help whatsoever from Councilman Bill Madsen (Councilman Bob Sirkus was out-of-town due to a previously noticed and approved absence and Councilman Jacobson was still missing in action) Mayor Markey Butler, through sheer force of her superior strategic analytical and leadership skills kept hammering away at Craig Monzio, Related's development bulldog, in order to maximize protections and obtain the best deal possible for the town — and based on, albeit sooner than anticipated, Related's not-so-surprising selloff that turns out to be very beneficial for the town.

Unfortunately Councilman Madsen has never heard a word from Related he didn't instantly fall all over himself to agree with thereby undercutting what his more reasoned colleagues have been attempting to achieve for the benefit of our community. He needs to re-examine who he was elected to represent, the full- and part-time residents of Snowmass or the untrustworthy developers who come and go.

During the closing round of the preliminary plan review, Related attempted to continue muscling its way through the review process using hard-ball negotiating tactics, which fortunately for all of us didn't scare off Mayor Butler. At the end of the day Related agreed to cost-free use of Building 6 for 14 years, worth about $1.7 million, plus $500,000 cash for the town to use as it chooses, pool access for Capitol Peak and Hayden owners, free use of the Base Village plaza for town events and increased square footage devoted to retail, restaurant and entertainment activities — not a bad night's work.

Although I sense Mayor Butler, Councilman Sirkus and the town staff would have preferred not to take on ownership of Building 6 due to the inherent financial risks to the community they went along with Councilpersons Shenk and Madsen's strong desire to do so in order to keep moving forward with the review process in an attempt to achieve final approval by year's end. That being the case Mayor Butler and Councilman Sirkus have held steadfastly to their goal of achieving protections that would substantially reduce much of that risk. But don't get me wrong, there are still major financial and management risks in taking over ownership of this building.

The assumption up to this point has been that Snowmass Discovery would land a home in this building as its primary tenant. But clearly that's no longer the case and the town will widen its consideration to include other nonprofits and for-profits that might be interested in locating in this building. The ability to attract large numbers of people over the long term along with the means to fund the building's interior buildout and sustain its operations without subsidy from the taxpayers are key factors in the decision making process. If the Snowmass Discovery management and board can prove their ability to meet these goals they may still have a good shot at getting the nod.

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There's a lot of work left for Related and the town before final approval of Related's plans is granted. Many more significant issues than usual remain for resolution during the final review process. Related wants final approval by Dec. 21 in order to commence construction in the spring. To achieve this goal they and our town staff have to work their buns off this month and in early November in order to get back in front of Town Council by late November or early December. Due to all the significant issues left to be resolved and Related's strong arm negotiating tactics, lots could still change, but lucky for us our Town Pitbull is still on the hunt — watch your back, Monzio.

Another unfortunate story recently came to light pitting the investment group owners of the Westin Hotel and Conference Center and the Holiday Inn Express vs. local business entrepreneur Reed Lewis, whose lease for the 81615 T-shirt and gift shop, at the base of the Westin is being terminated. Lewis told his landlord he's willing to accept a reasonable rent increase as well as a short-term lease in order to accommodate his landlord's pursuit of a tenant willing to pay significantly higher rent. So far there's no other tenant in sight and the store adjoining 81615 has been vacant for quite some time, also with no tenant in sight.

Lewis has also offered to take over this vacant space on a temporary basis and connect it to 81615. The landlord has refused to negotiate with Lewis and thus another long-term local merchant, who also owns the Daly Bottle Shop and Grain Fine Food and previously served our community as a member of Town Council as well as the Marketing, Group Sales and Special Events board, will be shown the door.

When if ever will these carpet baggers who come claiming they're here to improve our lives and well-being learn we're a community committed to supporting our local merchants and don't look kindly on self-serving bad behavior from out-of-town bullies? Beware of our kickback.

Even though it's offseason, I'll continue to remain on the lookout for any other bad dudes that attempt to do us wrong, and if you sight one, please pass it on to me at secondview@earthlink.net.

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