Marolt: Base Village is dead in the mud
I don’t believe the debate over the pen or the sword is a done deal. Politicians and people with things to hide, both of whom seem to disproportionately weigh in on the subject, definitely fear the pen. To everyone else, a big, sharp sword looks more menacing.
But I’m not here to talk about pens or swords. I want to talk about pocketbooks. A pocketbook is mightier than either.
Thank you, Aspen Skiing Co., the wielder of the biggest pocketbook in these parts. It is about time that somebody in the Base Village discussion fanned a few dollar bills and then put them away after clearing the smoke. The Limelight at Fanny Hill is off the drawing boards for now. The reason? There is no plan in existence for the completion of Base Village. It doesn’t matter what Related Whatchamacallit LLC says to the contrary.
You read it here first, about a year ago to be exact. The Village Idiot with the pen wrote about Related’s lack of a plan for its majority ownership share of our town. I said its plan was basically to sit and wait — wait for more suckers to get back into the timeshare market, wait for more gullible investors eager to throw money down a Base Village metro-district-financed sewer, wait for a miracle, I don’t know. But it was obvious that Related’s ace in the hole was to wait out the extra time it bought by wriggling out from underneath its massive pile of debt in foreclosure proceedings.
Skico had a plan for a new hotel in Snowmass Baseless Village. All it asked Related for in exchange for breaking ground was to show Skico its master plan for the Baseless Village that would allegedly surround it. Skico wanted to know what local amenities its hotel guests had to look forward to. As you can guess, a nice new hotel is probably just what Related’s debt doctors ordered for what ails the receding tide of a development project formerly known as The Tide to Float All Local Boats. I am sure Skico gave it ample opportunities to produce something. It wants to build the hotel. A pencil sketch on the back of a trail map probably would have sufficed.
Alas, nothing. Related couldn’t convince Skico that it had anything resembling a plan to finish the project other than sitting around and waiting for the second coming of 2006. The biggest action it has taken is to ask the Town Council for an extension of the waiting period that was supposed to be a building period, which Related thinks can be accomplished simply with a minor application review. Skico apparently didn’t buy it, and now it is not going to build it, either. One thing we have learned: When Related talks, money walks.
Despite the shock of Skico’s mammoth-sized announcement unearthed last week, this recent turn of events is a good thing. We are now in the workable, if not completely desirable, position of having absolutely nothing to lose in this Base Village hangover that, until now, we have tried to cure with lots of coffee, extra sugar please, and talk.
With nothing else to lose in this bloated saga with only our town’s future at stake, we can now safely take the entire Base Village project back to the drawing board without risking a thing. It is time to force the issues. It is time to demand some answers. It is time to forget the idea that a too-massive-to-begin-with, turbocharged real estate development plan hatched in the halcyon days of 2004 actually could be viable except for a once-in-a-lifetime five-year period of debt-fueled economic excess that has passed and left a generation’s worth of financial damage for the entire world to deal with. That Base Village is dead.
I can wait. You can wait. The Town Council can wait. We have proved this much to ourselves throughout the past decade when the excitement was, falsely, promised to be building. We need a new plan for Base Village that is copacetic with an entirely new financial reality that we are living with today and for decades to come. We need to do Base Village right instead of patchworking something together from the remnants of an outdated plan that might work long enough to provide a quick exit plan for Related. The bottom line: If we force the issue and Related can’t produce, maybe it’s time for it to get out of the way.
Roger Marolt is ready for nothing and has been for some time now. Contact him at email@example.com.
Snowmass Village retailers combined to generate $2.2 million in revenue in July, which translated to $247,891 in sales tax collections for the town’s general fund, according to the latest tax report available.