Marolt: Ignorance, arrogance and indifference — oh, my!
October 8, 2013
FROOMPH!!! That was the sound of Related and all its related companies burning through money back when they had plenty to burn. Unfortunately, the stack ran out a little sooner than expected, and that fire fizzled.
Tsssssssssss — that's the sound of the fuse leading to the powder keg of political capital they just lit, which is likely to go up in smoke even faster than the cash. It seems they can't keep the matches in their pants, which actually might be a safety precaution to keep those from catching fire, too.
I am sure they had no idea that terminating Village Market's lease in the Snowmass Center would be such a big deal. That's telling. Nobody in the know would kick out a first-class Snowmass Village institution of 35 years for a few extra bucks in rent from a new tenant while they are sitting on potentially $1 billion worth of real estate development, which, at some point, they will have to gain the backing of local voters to make a success of.
Call it ignorance on Related's part. I suppose it's possible that nobody from Related ever set foot in Village Market to see what a fine operation it is that caters to locals with outstanding products and service that has been valued by village residents for far longer than Related has been incorporated. It was reported that Related chose to go with a new grocery-store operator in that space because it presented exciting new options for Snowmass Village. That's interesting, because lots of us think Village Market is the best grocery store in the valley. Did Related really believe that Village Market is one of our biggest problems right now? Come on!
Then again, maybe it is just pure arrogance that drove Related to the decision. Did anyone survey you to see what you thought about our grocery store of 35 years? Nobody surveyed me. They say that Steve Jobs never used a market survey because he believed they were useless since the people had no idea what they wanted and he was going to show them. That is the epitome of arrogance. Yes, it worked out for him, but I doubt that is going to happen here. Related has proven to be more of a lemon than an apple so far.
As sure as I am that both ignorance and arrogance played their own important parts in this decision to go a different direction with groceries in the village, my real fear is that the driving force behind the decision was indifference. That would be indifference to us — you know, the people who live and work and call this recently false-fronted town our home.
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In the plainest English I know, I don't believe Related cares one iota about you or me. I don't think it cares how many years of our lives we have invested here. I don't think it gives a second thought to the families we proudly raise here in the shadows of its disaster. I know it doesn't care about our businesses. Has anybody kept a list of the trusting, good, local businesses that have closed since the start of Base Village? I don't think Related gives a penny more than it calculates is absolutely necessary to any local cause than it must in order to promote its own agenda. Has Related ever reached out to us in any other way than through a news conference? Am I being unfair here? Please, somebody publicly embarrass me and give a sliver of evidence to the contrary. I am ready to be red-faced!
Some people in this town have roundly criticized me for having too long a memory over the history of Base Village. It's true. I remember the approval fiasco Aspen Skiing Co. orchestrated for the million square feet of Snowmass Village Renaissance. I remember the nifty flip to Intrawest after it made its pledge to be with us to the finish. I remember the double-back flip to Related and the scale-size crater that was left in our village when our overleveraged latest savior forgot to plan for the contingency.
I remember all of this because it has a nasty way of getting in the way when I try to recall all the good things about Snowmass Village that were here before all of this nonsense began when my teenagers were still babies. I've been around long enough to know that nobody with an investment the size of Base Village can make it work without taking care of the community first. Related needs to rewrite its business plan with that on the first line. It needs to start doing the right things.
Roger Marolt is a pot ready to boil this week. Throw your match on the fire at firstname.lastname@example.org
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