Still no word from Willits developer | AspenTimes.com

Still no word from Willits developer

Scott CondonAspen, CO Colorado

BASALT Basalt officials said Monday they still are waiting for developer Michael Lipkin to explain “conflicting” information about his plan to alter land-use approvals for the Willits Town Center.Lipkin applied to the town last month to change his project so he could accommodate a Whole Foods supermarket. He also applied to add 85,000 square feet of residential space to his project.Lipkin told the Basalt Town Council and Basalt Planning Commission that the additional residences were “required” by Whole Foods to increase the shopping base.Representatives of the grocery chain refuted the claim after the meeting. They said a lease was signed without a contingency for the additional residences.”Whether it happens or not makes no difference to me,” Whole Foods Market Regional President Will Paradise said Friday.Willits is an attractive location, and the Roaring Fork Valley is an attractive market regardless of whether additional residences are approved at Willits, Paradise said.Paradise said Lipkin apparently thought the lease with Whole Foods included the contingency for the extra residences. The lease negotiations with the grocery chain were handled by Lipkin’s partner at the Willits Town Center, a Chicago-based firm called Joseph Freed and Associates.Basalt Mayor Leroy Duroux said town officials need to learn more about the “conflicting” statements before the review begins.”We’re waiting for an explanation from Michael Lipkin,” Duroux said. He noted that the explanation had been expected by now, based on what Lipkin told town officials.”I’m waiting for that before I make any judgments,” Duroux said.Lipkin told a reporter last week he was leaving on a vacation that was scheduled before the controversy arose.The review of Lipkin’s application has been delayed temporarily. The planning commission was scheduled to begin review Tuesday night but it will be tabled, Basalt Planning director Susan Philp said. The review probably won’t be rescheduled until July 17, she said.The official reason given for the tabling is “per applicant request.” Basalt Town Manager Bill Efting said the delay was a joint decision by Lipkin and town officials. They felt tabling the discussion would be best since Lipkin is on vacation and wouldn’t be able to attend the meeting.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is scondon@aspentimes.com


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