Plans in jeopardy for Skico hotel in Snowmass |

Plans in jeopardy for Skico hotel in Snowmass

Jill Beathard
Snowmass Sun

Plans for a hotel in Lot 2 of Base Village are in jeopardy unless the Snowmass Village Town Council upholds an appeal by Aspen Skiing Co. to streamline the process for changes to approvals for the lots.

Skico executives said Sept. 30 that the company has signed a letter of intent with Related Cos. to purchase the lot, where it wants to build a Limelight Hotel where a condominium building would have been. The hotel would have the same footprint — the deck, part of the roof of the parking garage, is already built — but still would require an amendment to the planned-unit development.

Skico owns and operates a Limelight Hotel in Aspen, which offers more affordable rooms than its Little Nell Hotel.

Staff members representing the town in the pre-application process ruled in August that the proposed changes were major according to town land-use code, which could take as long as 18 months to amend. Skico is appealing to the Town Council at the council’s next meeting on Oct. 7 to identify the amendments as minor in order to streamline the process, without which the company likely would not continue pursuing the hotel.

With a minor amendment process, Skico expects to start construction next summer and complete the hotel by December 2015. To the company, “that’s far enough out,” said CEO Mike Kaplan.

“If we lose that four to six months, then we really lose a whole year,” Kaplan said. “It’s highly unlikely” that the company will still want to buy the lot and open the hotel if the council doesn’t grant its appeal, Kaplan said.

Skico has an interest in making something happen in Base Village. The fact that the project is being completed only partially is having an impact on Skico’s operations, including customers’ experience and summer activities, Kaplan said. Skico is hopeful that the hotel will attract summer guests as well as provide more marketing might for Snowmass.

“We think it’s time,” Kaplan said. “Somebody needs to do something.”

Lot 2 includes what are known as Buildings 4, 5, 9A, 9B and 9C. In addition to the Limelight in Building 5, Skico is proposing to combine the commercial space on the first floor of Building 4 and open a Four Mountain Sports there. Skico is expanding the store’s current Base Village location to encompass the entire first floor of the red-barn building.

Skico does not plan to construct the other buildings. That portion of the lot would be landscaped and would be another location in Base Village where events could be programmed. (Snowmass Village appropriated funds on Sept. 23 for a lawn to be built at the base of Fanny Hill. See story on page 1.)

Additions to planned-unit developments are classified as major if they add more than six hotel or residential units or increase the existing floor area of a nonresidential building. Although Skico is planning to add more than six units, it also contends that the unit equivalents, a calculation of the impact of hotel or residential units, increase by less than six units.

A major amendment would require that Skico start over with a sketch plan. With all of the research and time that went into the original planned-unit development, “we don’t see the need to go back to sketch,” said Don Schuster, vice president of hospitality development.

Skico also is requesting that the Town Council simultaneously review the amendment and an amendment to the Fanny Hill Townhome planned-unit development. The company is looking to remove a condition in that planned-unit development that says it cannot receive a building permit until Phase 2B of Base Village is completed. That phase is supposed to include a roundabout and Wood Road improvements, which Related hasn’t given a timeline for. The town has denied letting Skico move forward on the townhomes, approved for a land parcel that Related WestPac did not purchase from Skico in 2007, because of that condition several times.

The proposed Limelight Hotel would have more than 100 rooms, 18 free-market residential units that also could be rented, three employee-housing units and the Snowmass Mountain Club, which would be similar to the private club operated by Skico on Aspen Mountain. The club and guests would have ski-in, ski-out access to the building.

Related Colorado President Dwayne Romero said he supports Skico adding more units.

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