Willits project may get even denser | AspenTimes.com

Willits project may get even denser

One of the densest developments in the Roaring Fork Valley is about to become more dense.

The developers of the Willits project have applied to the town of Basalt to add about 175 townhouses to their mix.

Willits already has approvals for roughly 425 single-family homes and multi-family units in its residential neighborhoods. Another 200,000 square feet of free-market and deed-restricted residential space will be built in the Willits commercial core along with 400,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, office and hotel space.

The massive project is located in west Basalt, just upvalley from the El Jebel City Market. It is being developed by Michael Lipkin, Paul Adams and Clay Crossland.

The developers wrestled with the town of Basalt for seven years over approval for the project until finally resolving the debate in May of 2001. Only one portion of the property, labeled Parcel 5, wasn’t part of the negotiated settlement.

The developers submitted an application this winter for the 175 additional townhouse units. The latest phase would be located adjacent to the Lakeside townhouses visible from Highway 82.

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Lipkin said the application is consistent with the existing zoning. The density also matches that of the neighboring 66 Lakeside townhouses.

But there is no guarantee the Willits owners will get approvals for 175 units. Town attorney Jody Edwards said Basalt’s master plan – a blueprint for the amount and type of future development – foresees about 80 units on Parcel 5. The developers’ proposal is more than twice as dense.

The town staff is reviewing the application. It hasn’t been considered by the Planning Commission or Town Council yet.

Lipkin said he has never heard from town staff that the proposal is too dense. He believes that is the perfect place for high-density development of about 16 units per acre. In addition, he said it complies with the master plan’s goal to promote density within the urban growth boundary – the area the town has designated as appropriate for growth and urban services.

“We have to make a choice in this valley on whether we want density or sprawl,” said Lipkin.

The Lakeside townhouses have been one of the best-selling components of the Willits project. The two-bedroom units have sold for between $185,000 and $285,000.

Lipkin said the proposed townhouses would also include a mix of two- and three-bedroom units.

Although the Lakeside units don’t have any deed restrictions on who can buy them or limits on buyers’ incomes or assets, Lipkin and his partners did agree to initial sales price ranges. They also built the units small to control sales amounts.

The developers and the town government are negotiating what affordable housing criteria apply to this latest application.

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