Blumenthal: Trying on the rose-colored glasses
A wise friend of mine who frustratingly has nary a pessimistic bone in his body and unlimited amounts of patience recently implored me to take a different tack than I’d normally be prone to do and make an effort to look at the glass half-full rather than the half-empty one I normally see in front of me.
In order to test his optimistic approach, which appears to give him much greater comfort and peace of mind than my pessimistic and angst-ridden view of our surroundings, I thought I’d take another look at our unfinished resort core and see how full the glass might already be.
Take the mall, for example. Often I see decaying buildings in need of lots of deferred maintenance and rehab and large sections of inoperative snowmelt under the plaza walkways. All of that, of course, is true but the optimist also sees the results of the recent infusion of $50 million by David Wasserman and Starwood Capital Group that has now brought forth the new luxury four-star Westin Snowmass Resort with its adjoining Patagonia and North Face retail shops, Starbucks, several new casual and upscale dining establishments, a head-to-toe makeover of the Wildwood Snowmass and an upgraded Snowmass Conference Center.
Others have followed suit with a fully remodeled and more functional Aspen Sports, Gorsuch winter/summer clothing and equipment emporium, a bowling alley being constructed adjacent to the lower level of Aspen Sports and the Ice Age Discovery Center.
With the former accounting for close to 50 percent or more of the mall’s primary resort-related space, an optimist likely would say a good deal of progress already has been made in spite of the difficult economic patch we’re just beginning to emerge from.
Who knows? Maybe Dwayne Romero and his team at the good ship Related Colorado will surprise us soon with an announcement of more upgrades to the remaining mall properties that they own, or perhaps if they’re really as smart as I think they are, they’ll team up with Wasserman and his partners at the Starwood Capital Group and underwrite a major rehab of the rest of the mall — keep your fingers crossed.
With my gray-tinted glasses slowly turning a rosier shade, let’s take a quick look at Base Village. Although no deep-pocketed angel has stepped up yet to initiate the completion of Base Village and its surrounding environs, there are strong indications we’ll hear from Related soon as to its revised master plan for this key portion of our resort core.
What we don’t know yet is whether Related’s master plan will look like the plan that was approved originally. The conundrum to be addressed is that developers only want to build what will sell, but the town must be concerned with what will contribute most to maximizing occupancy, which is at the heart of the long-range sustainability of a mountain resort community such as ours.
What we do know is that Related recently pushed back at Skico’s plan to convert the Sneaky’s Tavern space into another ski shop in favor of holding it available for a more vibrant attraction, and this week, Related submitted a specific plan to complete the second Viceroy building. Assuming developer greed and political posturing don’t get out of hand, construction likely will begin next spring — again, keep your fingers crossed.
I just heard another piece of good news concerning our long-gestating ice-age discovery. In addition to this summer’s installation of a fossil preparatory lab in the Discovery Center utilizing actual fossils discovered under the Ziegler Reservoir and Skico’s planned dig pit for kids of all ages on Fanny Hill, Tom Cardamone, the Aspen Center for Environmental Studies’ long-term, highly respected former executive director who still remains very active at ACES as its chief ecologist, also has agreed to serve as the Ice Age Discovery Center’s part-time executive director. Based on his long and successful career leading the nationally respected ACES, he’s the ideal candidate to oversee and guide this project forward in order to achieve its full potential as a major educational and resort attraction.
There’s something really infectious about this rosy view of the world outlook — let’s see how long it lasts.
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