Town looks at Snowmass Center redevelopment, expansion

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times
A rendering of the proposed future Snowmass Center.
Design Workshop/Courtesy photo |

With construction underway at Base Village and on the hill, Snowmass’ next major makeover will take place at the town center — which developers hope to expand and transform into a communal hub.

Eastwood Snowmass Investors — owners of the Snowmass Center and a few neighboring parcels (altogether formally called the Faraway Ranch North subdivision) — recently submitted to the town of Snowmass their “sketch plan” to redevelop the near 40-year-old structure and its surrounding area.

At a joint meeting Monday between the Snowmass Town Council and the planning commission, two principals with Design Workshop revealed their proposed plans and intent with the expansion and redevelopment.

“One of the ideas that has occurred in the comprehensive plan over time has been that there be more community gathering spaces. That this might be classified as the main street for Snowmass,” Design Workshop principal Richard Shaw said before both town committees. “And to that degree, there are some street-level pedestrian amenities, but there could be a lot more. And there could be a configuration in which this whole place really takes on the character of a town center, a street-oriented kind of retail and residential, mixed-use environment.

“And with that comes new architecture that picks up a new character that has a way to express itself to the outside to make a street where no street really exists today.”

Altogether, the developers are requesting an additional 20,160 square feet of commercial and/or office space, 10,950 square feet of restricted housing and 62 free-market residential units, according to the project application.

Shaw said the Snowmass Center’s tenants such as Clark’s Market, Sundance Liquor & Gifts and the post office are necessary services to build upon.

“It’s really about those services that have been for the local community that serve both the tourist, second-home and permanent residential community here in Snowmass,” he said. “Having said that, the next question is what would be the benefit from improvement and what kind of improvements could we see?”

One of those areas, Shaw said, is the Snowmass Center’s “approach and arrival — how you get to the center, what the experience looks like.”

Adding about 120 subgrade parking spaces (67 are required with the proposed increase in commercial square footage) and restructuring the center’s parking situation altogether is one idea, Shaw said.

Another proposal aimed at improving connectivity is the addition of a pedestrian bridge crossing the roundabout from Base Village to below Town Hall.

In terms of connectivity and transporting people across the village, Snowmass Town Councilman Tom Goode indicated a desire to see what could happen with the “new Skittles” — the proposed gondola associated with the original Base Village approvals back in 2004 — more so than a pedestrian bridge.

Goode and Shaw briefly weighed a few pros and cons of a bridge versus a gondola until Snowmass Town Attorney John Dresser reminded them that the purpose of Monday’s joint meeting was simply to listen to the developers’ proposals and return with feedback at a later meeting date.

With that, no other council or planning commissioners offered their thoughts.

The next step is for the planning commission to review the project application and make a recommendation to the council.

As of Monday night, no meeting date for either discussion had been set.