There’s a new big fish in the Snowmass Village pond
One man could soon have significant ownership interests in all three major commercial centers in Snowmass Village.Patrick Smith, principal investor in WestPac Investments LLC, is negotiating with the Aspen Skiing Co. and Intrawest Corp. to purchase the bulk of Base Village and take over its development (see related story).Smith is already the managing partner of a group that owns the Snowmass Center, which includes the town’s post office, a drug store and its only supermarket. The owners have an approved plan to redevelop the center into a 100,000-square-foot commercial area. Smith and his partners are seeking approval for what he labeled “awesome modifications.”The Village Market wants to expand from 10,000 to 25,000 square feet, Smith said.After acquiring an ownership interest in the Snowmass Center, Smith and another investment group bought the Snowmass Village Mall. Smith is a partner in Meridian Pacific Ltd., which bought the mall in June 2005 for nearly $25 million.He is part of a team that also has an option to acquire what’s known as the Burwell properties – the Silvertree Hotel, Wildwood and Snowmass Conference Center. The mall and the Burwell properties are the heart of what’s known as West Village – a part of Snowmass Village that the town’s elected officials desperately want to see redeveloped.Smith and his business partner, Jeff Klein, have teamed with longtime Snowmass Village developers Jim Light and Jim Chaffin, and their associate David Wilhelm, to work on a “revitalization” plan for West Village.Smith saved his biggest move for last. He said he became aware some time ago that some of the commercial space at Base Village was available. After investigating a purchase, he placed an offer for all commercial and residential development in the project at the base of Snowmass Ski Area.The three projects combined could give Smith and his various partners more than 300,000 square feet of commercial space – the vast majority of what’s available in the village. Smith touted the potential concentration of ownership as an advantage for the village rather than a potentially detrimental monopoly. He said it could allow price averaging that will allow locally owned business to lease space at Base Village. It might otherwise be out of their price range.Jeff Tippett, a former Snowmass Village mayor and a critic of Base Village, said the monopoly on commercial space could work to the town’s advantage in a couple of ways. First, the town was in danger of having a glut of commercial space if competing developers were building the three main projects. Now, Smith is likely to phase in retail and other commercial space as the bed base expands.Second, Tippett said, Smith can offer space in Base Village to businesses displaced by the redevelopment of the mall.On the other hand, the concentration of three big real estate projects in one principal partner’s hands jeopardizes Snowmass Village if the real estate market crumbles, Tippett said. If Smith encounters troubles elsewhere, Tippett asked, will it affect his standing in Snowmass?”If he stubs his toe, Snowmass is going to be hurting big-time,” Tippett said.Scott Condon’s e-mail address is email@example.com.