Letter: Condo proposal not good For Basalt | AspenTimes.com

Letter: Condo proposal not good For Basalt

There seems to be a rush to develop the old Pan and Fork river property regardless of what it is. The original Community Development Corp. development that was proposed to the people of Basalt was going to be a hotel, retail shops and an area for nonprofits. This sounded really good to most of the people of Basalt.

The residents and shop owners of Basalt would like to see vitality brought back to “Old Town” so it can prosper. The Lowe Enterprises developers have now come to the rescue to bail Basalt out of its woes and have convinced many that the only way to bring vitality to Basalt is to build high-priced condos. Yes, there is a proposed hotel (Phase 3), which includes the highly desired public spaces — restaurant, bar and retail — but will be built only if they sell all of their condos. The developer is not at fault here; it is only doing what it does best, which is develop and sell property for a profit — it’s not in the business of community development.

It is interesting how Basalt went from needing a hotel to create vitality to selling to developers to build condos, priced at $500,000 to $900,000. So these are not for locals to live in but for those who would like to have a place in Aspen but can’t afford the prices. They are great weekend getaways but will be just like Aspen, where they stay dark for most of the week or month. This is not what the town of Basalt needs!

Now when the condo pre-sales don’t do as well as the developer had hoped, it will have to put the project on hold, rethink the development and ask the town to change it to more density so it can sell more at a lower price, just have a Phase 1 or 2 project completed, find some other developer or have the town buy it from them.

This is how development works, or should we say doesn’t work. Don’t be surprised when the hotel is never built because the developer never committed to building one. Yes, it is all about the numbers the developer tells us, and you have to sell a bunch of profitable condos to afford to build a hotel, right?

Wrong. Real hotel developers do not necessarily need to build condos in order to build a hotel. They understand the dynamics of how to provide a hotel that will attract people to it by creating a vibrancy and meeting place for cultural events and fun activities. Go to http://www.21cmuseumhotels.com, and see what others are doing to rescue and reinvigorate their towns and create a very viable, vibrant and cultural community.

The Pan and Fork is a legacy property that deserves to have as much time taken to create the most rewarding and sustainable possibilities to the residents, shop owners and businesses of Basalt. Don’t rush into making hasty decisions in the need to just do something.

Sam Johnson


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