Marolt: All I want for Christmas is an arts venue | AspenTimes.com

Marolt: All I want for Christmas is an arts venue

Roger Marolt
Cluster Phobic

Roger Marolt

Let me get this straight: Anderson Ranch is no longer interested in working with Related Amalgamated to build an arts center in Baseless Village, Related wants to extend its expiring 10-year vested building rights for another five years but is scared of investing its own money in a performing-arts center, and all that the incredibly patient, understanding, too-easy-to-fool voters get out of the deal is a lousy roundabout? Reindeer droppings!

Don't forget that the original vested building rights for Baseless Village were begrudgingly extended by us to begin with. Why? Basically because the original incarnation of bad developers with worse plans that eventually evolved into Related Whatever LLC, in not-so-straightforward words, fessed up to the Town Council that it was actually a severely underfunded outfit with a weak financial plan that relied completely on pre-selling a million square feet of cookie-cut faux European, false-fronted Vail-esque "village" and might need up to a decade of our lives to realize this impossible dream.

Lo and behold, 10 years turns out not to be not enough time. Related now needs 15 to carry out no plan whatsoever. And, like I mentioned before, our reward for going along with the non-plan is a new traffic circle. Merry Christmas to all, and stick it in your corncob pipe to smoke, and plan to put a button where your nose used to be because we're about to get sucker-punched again.

As the old saying goes, when given a lump of coal, you have to make some acid rain — or something like that. I don't want a stinking roundabout as a community benefit gift. Related needs to build that just to mitigate the traffic chaos it is planning to create.

I made a list and checked it twice — I want a performing-arts center in Snowmass Village! It is the one thing that could actually attract commerce to our town after the lifts shut down, which is every single night during ski season and round the clock the remaining eight months of the year.

I am sorry Anderson Ranch has decided that its future doesn't lie in Base Village, but the sad fact is that ours does. We can't jump off the bandwagon, because our entire town is built on it. The only thing we can do is make sure it has comfortable seats enclosed in a first-class, state-of-the-art, jaw-droppingly beautiful performing-arts center. And I think Related ought to build it, without wasting any more time or cutting any more corners, because, while this would be the greatest thing to happen to our town since the Big Burn, Related is ultimately the one that would benefit most from it.

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I guarantee Related knows this. I will bet anything that we will ultimately have a performing-arts center. I also assure you that all the posturing and promising going on now in Town Council chambers have their design in Related's playbook where we, the taxpayers, will ultimately pay for the arts center at Base Village.

Related says it will not have plans to submit by the end of next year when its building rights expire. The tight deadline of a decade to put something together proved impossible to meet. This is a terrible omen for a woeful underperformer. Why would we go along with this? The answer, of course, is that the completion of any kind of Base Village that would fit on the foundation already built wouldn't be attempted by any developer with brains.

So we are left with Related, whose plan is not to submit any plans for completing Snowmess Baseless Village before its vesting rights expire next fall. Who do they think they are? Bigger question: Who do they think they are dealing with? Don't answer that. They know darn well who, and so do we. Our track record of caving in to Related is unmatched anywhere and is the envy of lousy developers around the world.

We need to finally draw a line in the concrete. That line has to sketch a performing-arts center as the centerpiece of Base Village. Related doesn't need specific plans yet. But it does need to commit to a specified number of seats, provide conceptual drawings to prove it is on the right track and put up a significant performance bond toward its ultimate completion.

We are driving the sleigh this time around. So, just maybe, if Related decides to play nice instead of naughty, or even not at all, we might finally get this thing off the ground.

Roger Marolt is so frustrated with Related Clauses that he would settle even for a lump of coal instead of nothing again this year. Contact him at roger@maroltllp.com.