Blumenthal: Sunshine in Base Village cloud? | AspenTimes.com

Blumenthal: Sunshine in Base Village cloud?

Mel Blumenthal
Second View
Mel Blumenthal

On this dark and dreary Saturday in the village, my dog Jersey and I were just sitting at the Enclave contemplating what to do the rest of the day when I came upon Lo Semple’s weekly commentary, which contained a thought that likely could change my outlook on life, at least for the near future.

While ruminating over all the angst-ridden changes in Aspen over the years, Lo concluded that — in order not to end up a bitter old man — the less attention he pays to things he has no control over, the happier he’ll be. I thought perhaps it would be a good and sensible way forward for me, so I tried it out on a local friend who kind of already follows this philosophical path. Although supportive, he clearly was skeptical as to whether it would take hold in me.

Who knows what life will bring if the sun finally peeks through the clouds this afternoon, but until then I’ll try practicing this new way forward with just one exception: Base Village, and with that said I’ll try to purge it once and for all from my consciousness in the paragraphs below with what hopefully will be my final, next to final or soon to be final words on the subject.

At the Town Council meeting a week ago, Related presented a request to extend its soon-to-expire vested development rights, which from Team Related’s viewpoint was greeted less than satisfactorily by the council and the citizens assembled for the public hearing.

There’s still a lot of well-deserved reservation in the community to granting four to five years of additional vesting to Related without first seeing its plans for completion of Base Village along with a financial security commitment ensuring it will do what it promises. Related’s long and unfortunate history of not honoring its promises and commitments is at the root of our feelings of distrust and skepticism, notwithstanding its offer to meet various milestone conditions.

The re-emergence of Aspen Skiing Co. and its proposed Limelight Hotel is thought by many in the village to be a good and positive move forward, but that project was in the mix several months ago until Skico and Related fell out of love with each other — who’s to say how long their current romance will last.

As to Related’s proposed milestones, in legal terms they’re structured as conditions subsequent, which means Related gets all that it’s asking for now in terms of an extension of its vested development rights and if it doesn’t meet the specified milestone dates, the town can terminate the rights. From a political standpoint, that would be an unlikely outcome as we all get much further down the road with a still incomplete Base Village.

A better legal framework proposed by several council members as well as others in the community would be to structure the milestones as conditions precedent, meaning that Related would be incentivized to move forward in an expeditious manner by reconfiguring the milestones so that vesting would be extended, as opposed to terminated upon the occurrence of clearly delineated events, such as approval of its soon-to-be revealed plans; commencement of construction of the Limelight; the Transportation Center Building 7, now sporting a deteriorating false front; and the build-out of the massive concrete bomb shelter, Building 8, that was originally intended to be a Little Nell hotel/residential complex.

The only apparent downside to Related not receiving its requested vesting extension in one long tranche is the risk it runs of possibly having to provide a bit more employee housing than was required 10 years ago when Base Village was originally approved. To his credit, Dwayne Romero, president of Related Colorado, acknowledged that although a bit more expensive for Related, it’s not a fatal flaw. Loss of vesting does not mean Related loses its development rights, only that it’s subject to any new code changes that have come into play since the original approvals were granted.

That being said, many of us would not be opposed to granting Related a short-term extension now to comfortably get them through the period required for the review and approval of their revised development plans which it has promised to present by Oct. 15.

Since it’s likely the community has more trust in Skico due to its long-term vested interest in our resort and its hotel plans, and less trust in Related due to its past failures, perhaps the Town Council would also give consideration to crafting a formula for an extension of vesting related to Skico’s re-emergence in the Base Village mix.

Hopefully, calm and considerate minds will give these ideas some serious consideration. Otherwise I anticipate a long and conflicted path to completion of Base Village, as well as the re-emergence of warfare in the Town Council chambers with no clear and obvious winners in sight.

With all of that said, keep your fingers crossed for the emergence of the new and happier Mel.

You can always find me whiling away the cold and dreary days at secondview@earthlink.net.


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