Letter: Optimistic about Base Village progress | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Optimistic about Base Village progress

Editor's note: This letter was originally addressed to the Snowmass Village Town Council and town staff.

Dear town of Snowmass Village Town Council and staff:

Happy holidays. Here is to a great snow start for the season! Mother Nature has assumed her rightful role as chief marketing officer for our Colorado ski resorts —­ Yes!

We wanted to take this opportunity to update you on the general progress and planning efforts we have underway at Base Village. Some of it is great, and some of it needs further information and consideration. This additional, but necessary, work will prevent us from submitting a major Base Village planned-unit development amendment and sketch plan by the end of the year (explained below in more detail).

Overall we are optimistic with the new momentum taking hold at Base Village, and the following list of tactical achievements is witness to that fact:

1. Sold 54 (54!) Viceroy Snowmass Residences in the past 11 months —­ representing more than $30 million in closed sales at an average price per square foot of $876. This reflects more than a third of the entire inventory of the first Viceroy Snowmass building (13A). We also have sold three Capitol Peak residences for another $3 million in the same time frame. Combined, these sales have generated approximately $330,000 in real estate transfer taxes for the town of Snowmass Village.

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2. We redesigned and re-entitled the second Viceroy Snowmass building (13B) in preparation for an expected construction start next year (redesign led by Rockwell Design from New York, including the addition of a new 2,770-square-foot fitness facility).

3. We successfully planned, designed and entitled the important deep utilities work for both the Snowmass Water and Sanitation District and the town of Snowmass Village, which then led to the execution of the work this past fall. These efforts reflect $1 million-plus in public improvements and set the stage for the completion of the Brush Creek/Wood Road Roundabout (included in a minor planned-unit development submission to the town earlier this month).

4. Our lodging centers — the Viceroy Snowmass Resort and Residences and Snowmass Hospitality — reached annual records for both revenues and income. The early-season bookings (both in group and leisure) for 2013-14 look promising and should continue this encouraging recovery trend.

On the planning front, we have achieved significant progress, but not without our share of setbacks. On the bright side, we are thrilled with Aspen Skiing Co.'s proposal to bring a Limelight Hotel into Base Village and to do so at a rapid pace. (Assuming it receives the necessary land-use approvals, it also plans to start in 2014.) The thought of having more than 100 new hotel keys introduced in Snowmass Village, let alone the fact that they could be positioned squarely in the nucleus of Base Village (occupying the Building 5 site), is a strong signal of forward progress and bolsters the momentum achieved over the past year.

The sale of Base Village Lot 2 to Aspen Skiing Co. also would convert Building 4 into its main hub for all Base Village skier-related services, and it would delete two small buildings (9AB and 9C) from Base Village development plans in order to create an open space in the core of Base Village that could be utilized for a range of programming, winter and summer. Knowing that this application is now submitted to the town (directly by Aspen Skiing Co. with our written permission and strong support), I cannot go further on the topic here. It is safe to say that we are both excited and eager to have this become an important component of the continued forward progress for Base Village.

Secondly, over the past 10 months we have had the opportunity to engage with and develop good relationships with the management team and board of Anderson Ranch. You may recall that this connection led to the introduction of a small, but creative, Children's Art Center in Base Village that was established at the end of last ski season and is now poised to really take off this winter.

Our discussions with Anderson Ranch led to a series of meetings earlier this year where we engaged the help of a local architectural company, CCY of Basalt. From those meetings we were able to develop plans that would allow Anderson Ranch to grow and expand its arts campus in Base Village, and we were also able to develop a letter of intent to ultimately sell Anderson Ranch a small component of Base Village (in the Building 6 and 7 areas). One aspect of that plan envisioned a multi­-use performance-arts building to be constructed in one of the Anderson Ranch buildings.

After an extensive review of those plans this fall, Anderson Ranch has made a decision to focus more closely on creating any new expansion of programming or buildings on its current Snowmass Village campus. We respect the decision of Anderson Ranch and continue to work with it on current programming in Base Village by donating space to it this winter for the children's art program in Base Village and for future programming by continuing our discussions with Anderson Ranch regarding potential art galleries or a performing-arts space that it would partially utilize.

Since our future development plans for the core of Base Village envisioned an arts building or buildings programmed by Anderson Ranch, we have now embarked on an alternative development plan for these core Base Village buildings.

As part of our current planning process for the development of the Base Village core, we are now talking with a range of local arts and other organizations, including the leaders and board of the Ice Age Discovery group, for current and future programming needs.

To re-envision development of Buildings 6 and 7, Related Colorado is now engaged in a public planning process to plan for the development of the Base Village core.

Community outreach is an important component of that planning process, and we will be listening to ideas and suggestions for further development of Base Village at the following meetings and events:

Dec. 17: Aspen Board of Realtors luncheon at the Viceroy Snowmass Resort and Residences

Dec. 18: Media event — opening celebration for Ricard Brasserie and Liquor Bar

Dec. 20: Community-outreach planning meeting at Ricard Brasserie and Liquor Bar

Dec. 26: Part-time Residents Advisory Board winter meeting

Dec. 30: Holiday cocktail party, Viceroy Snowmass Resort and Residences, co-hosted by Jeff Blau, CEO of Related Cos., and Dwayne Romero, president of Related Colorado

Jan. 11: Community-outreach planning meeting and après ski at Base Village Bia Hoi

Jan. 15: Community-outreach planning meeting and apres-ski at Base Village Conference Center Boardroom

Jan. 28: Community outreach planning with Miami Ski Club at Viceroy Snowmass Resort and Residences

After further discussions with Aspen Skiing Co., local arts organizations, the Ice Age Discovery group and others, Related Colorado will be ready to submit a pre-Sketch Plan to the Snowmass Village Community Development Department for the Base Village major planned-unit development.

In the meantime, we wish you and your families happy holidays. Winter bookings continue to outpace last year's stellar occupancy numbers in our lodging properties, so we're looking for this winter season to be one of the best in years.

Dwayne Romero

President, Related Colorado