Time to come clean on Base Village sales
The tactics used by Intrawest to select buyers for the first 90 condominiums to be built at Base Village don’t pass the stink test.The fact that deposits for the units were accepted only from those deemed acceptable by Intrawest and the Aspen Skiing Co. may not be illegal or even unethical, but it is hardly community-minded.For years, representatives from the two companies told anyone who would listen that Base Village – approximately 1 million square feet of commercial and residential properties at the bottom of Fanny Hill – was good for the resort and good for the community. Base Village, they said, would revitalize a flagging economy and rejuvenate the town.But when asked on multiple occasions throughout the last two months about when the condos planned in the first phase of construction would go on sale, Intrawest and Skico officials did just about anything they could to avoid answering the question. Apparently, that was information the community didn’t need to know.It wasn’t until Aspen Times reporter Steve Benson dug out the fact that a list of preferred buyers, somewhere between 500 to 800, had been gathered and that only a few would actually be invited to purchase a unit that Intrawest began talking.Michael O’Connor, vice president of development at Intrawest, confirmed Benson’s findings and added that top priority would be given to homeowners in Snowmass Village and those who already own units in other Intrawest developments such as Whistler. Another deciding factor was the willingness of prospective owners to place their units in the rental pool. The idea behind it all, O’Connor said, is to create hot beds that can be rented out on a nightly or weekly basis to visitors. The creation of “hot beds” is a worthy goal, but the method and style used to reach that goal raises questions.First off, why all the secrecy?O’Connor says, “Our goal is to get the right people here and get them in the unit they want.” How does Intrawest, a company with just a few years’ experience in Snowmass, know who the “right people” are?And why are units being offered first to homeowners in Snowmass Village? Don’t they already have a place to stay in Snowmass? Are Intrawest and Skico rewarding local supporters of Base Village for their loyalty with the chance to buy a unit before they’re offered on the free market? And what’s to stop those lucky few local residents from flipping their units and making a killing?Given the acrimony this project caused, doesn’t it make sense to tell the community what you’re doing and why you’re doing it?
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