Snowmass Town Council approves Base Village amendment on first reading and purchase of Snowmass Inn
During a nearly four-hour meeting Sept. 21, Snowmass Town Council narrowly passed an ordinance on first reading that approves the minor planned unit development (PUD) amendment to the final phase of Base Village development, and gave town staff the go ahead to purchase the Snowmass Inn for workforce housing. Here’s the recap:
COUNCIL NARROWLY OK’s BASE VILLAGE AMENDMENT
In a 3-2 vote, Town Council passed an ordinance on first reading that approves the minor PUD amendment to the final phase of Base Village development.
The initial approval comes after four meetings of council review and on the heels of both town staff’s and the Snowmass Planning Commission’s evaluation and ultimate recommendation to move forward with the minor PUD amendment.
As laid out in town documents, the amendment to the last phase of Base Village — which includes five new buildings (10A, 10B, 11, 12 and 13B) and the Base Village pool — looks to adjust the following aspects of the already approved development project:
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Create an overarching master development plan for phase three of Base Village and a more streamlined building- or site-specific approval process. The minor PUD amendment itself is meant to serve as the master development plan, which lays out minimum and maximum parameters (such as square footage, building heights, employee housing mitigation, etc.) for each building and is more overarching.
If the master development plan and minor PUD amendment is approved, developers would then be able to bring site-specific development plans for each building with real-time market trends and design adjustments to Town Council for review and approval. This process aims to allow for more design flexibility and be more efficient for all parties versus going through a full, more time-consuming minor PUD amendment process for every proposed design change over the next several years of the phase three project.
“Pivot” or shift the positioning of both Building 11 and Building 10A, which are proposed along Wood Road, to create a more amenable and easily accessible “village pool” area for Base Village tenants. Building 10B’s position will be relatively unchanged from what was originally approved in 2015.
Allow for the potential of making Building 13B, which is planned adjacent to Viceroy Snowmass, a commercial, hotel extension of the Viceroy versus a building with residential condo units.
A revised master parking plan that would shift some of the originally approved parking requirements for the project. Generally speaking, the parking plan follows ratios of 0.75 spaces per residential unit, two spaces per residential unit with four bedrooms or more within a building with at least 20 units, and 0.5 spaces per hotel/lodging unit. However, the plan also would allow for the potential to charge for Base Village parking in the summer (upon town staff approval), some parking requirement reductions down to a 0.6 space per residential unit ratio minimum as a result of a residential car share program and dedicated stall program Base Village owners can utilize to store their vehicles.
Extend the vested rights to complete the full Base Village development another five years, giving developers until November 2029.
While town staff and the Planning Commission expressed agreement with most of the minor amendment requests, Planning Commission felt it should be included in the site-specific review process; and Planning Commission was split on the “pivot” of Buildings 10A and 11 and how it would impact the surrounding area.
As brought to both Planning Commission and Town Council, The Enclave Association of Enclave Condominiums, which sit across Wood Road from the proposed 10A and 10B buildings, is concerned that the shift of Buildings 10A and 11 will have a substantial “adverse impact” on the north facing views from the Enclave units and property, and would create an increased “wall effect” along Wood Road, as previously reported.
Base Village owners also have expressed concern with potentially adverse impacts of the minor PUD amendment, including how Building 13B as a commercial hotel property versus residential condominiums would create a negative impact on the Base Village master homeowner’s association; and how the amended master parking plan would limit owners’ overall right to accessible parking.
At the Sept. 21 meeting, town staff and East West Partners representatives gave more detail and explanation on the financial impact of Building 13B as a hotel versus condos on Base Village owners, noting that the hotel option is financially better for the town, more so than the residential option; and that based on financial estimates, the hotel option would collectively amount to $160,000 more per year for the Base Village master association and the Metro 2 tax district combined ($120,000 worse for the master and $280,000 better for the district).
East West Partners also presented more information on how the site-specific reviews for each building would play out, including that each design from start to finish would take approximately 16 months, giving little wiggle room for delay and increasing risk if the project is to be completed by November 2029.
“We can go concurrently with some of these buildings, which we are doing as we speak with Building 11, but there’s a lot of money and a lot of risk and this set of partners has been great but not everyone is going to be willing to do that,” said Andy Gunion, managing partner of East West Partners in Snowmass. East West Partners, Aspen Skiing Co. and KSL Capital Partners make up the Snowmass Ventures LLC collaborative developer group, which owns Base Village. “These just take a lot of time once you get into them.”
In response to the question of Building 13B and what it would be developed as specifically, Councilman Bob Sirkus suggested creating a loose condition that development on 13B as a hotel could move forward only if it is still projected to result in balancing out the Base Village association and tax district budgets — which it is anticipated to do in conjunction with the development of Building 11 and stabilization of One Snowmass.
“I’m trying to create a situation where the residential (Base Village) owners, before you come back with the decision to make (13B) a hotel, those owners knew that they were in a balanced budget situation including the hotel,” Sirkus said, saying that financial projections need to show Building 11 and 13B will create that balance.
Gunion said he felt this condition was doable, and is set to be drafted for the second reading of the town ordinance approving the minor PUD amendment.
The ordinance mainly aligns with the requests detailed in the minor PUD amendment, but includes some minor language changes and corrections as directed by town staff and council.
And although in the Planning Commission’s review of the amendment led it to request it be included in the site-specific review process, council ultimately decided to bypass Planning Commission.
As Town Council went line by line of the ordinance, the question of if the minor PUD amendment is “consistent with the original PUD approval; has no substantially adverse effect on the neighborhood surrounding the land where the amendment is proposed; makes no change to the basic character of the PUD or surrounding areas; and complies with all other applicable town standards,” as directed in the town’s minor PUD review standards came up. The Planning Commission struggled with this question, mainly regarding the shift of Buildings 10A and 11, during its review as well, specifically asking council to focus on it — which council has at every review meeting and has been unable to make a determination on.
But during the first reading Sept. 21, council expressed general consensus that while the amendment did change the character of the neighborhood, that change wasn’t substantially adverse.
“I do think that it changes the character but I think that in this instance maybe the public or community good outweighs,” Councilwoman Alyssa Shenk said.
“And I don’t think it substantially creates an adverse impact,” Mayor Markey Butler added. “I think there is an impact, but I don’t think it’s substantial.”
After going through the ordinance, Butler asked for a motion to approve it on first reading. However, Sirkus said he wanted to see a clean copy of the document with town staff’s and council’s suggested edits before he voted on it.
Town staff said a clean copy and a redlined copy would be available for review on second reading, so Butler went ahead with a vote. Sirkus and Shenk voted against the ordinance on first reading, and Butler, Councilman Bill Madsen and Councilman Tom Goode voted for it.
The second reading of the ordinance is set for the Oct. 5 regular meeting at 4 p.m.
COUNCIL MOVEs FORWARD WITH SNOWMASS INN PURCHASE
Council OK’d town staff to move forward with the purchase of the Snowmass Inn.
The town is under contract to buy the inn and nearing the end of its 120-day due diligence period, which allows staff to investigate the condition and history of the property.
The inn has 39 hotel-style rooms and two apartments that currently provide affordable, short-term housing for seasonal and year-round workers, and will cost the town $6 million to purchase and add to its rental housing portfolio, as previously reported.
As explained by Betsy Crum, town housing director, Sept. 21, staff and consultants have mostly completed their review of the Snowmass Inn and have identified several items of concern, including water heaters and boilers in both of the inn buildings that need to be replaced; bathrooms that are not ventilated to the exterior, which can lead to mold and mildew, that need to be addressed; exterior stairways that need to be repaired and reinforced; and smoke detectors that need to be replaced.
Crum said that replacing the water heaters and boilers will cost about $150,000, and that the town’s consulting architect is developing a capital replacement plan with immediate, short-term and long-term repair suggestions.
However, during the town’s 2021 budget discussions, Crum said if the acquisition of the Snowmass Inn is approved, council will be asked to look at allocating roughly $800,000 to help rehab the units beyond what’s absolutely needed, bringing them up to more of a studio unit standard.
But before the town can make those decisions on how to renovate the Snowmass Inn, Crum and Town Manager Clint Kinney said it’s important to acquire the property first.
“All we’re saying is let’s acquire it, let’s own it and let’s start making those decisions. That’s your first question and that’s the answer Betsy is asking for tonight,” Kinney said.
Crum added that while the town plans to bring the rooms up to a studio standard, there has been and continues to be demand for these type of rental units, and that staff would plan to keep the Snowmass Inn operating as a rental property this winter.
Council agreed with purchasing the inn but emphasized that it will be important to look at how the rooms can be renovated to provide a better living experience for renters.
“I feel this is the first piece in a bigger puzzle that provides potential, really strong opportunity for substantially increasing our workforce housing,” Sirkus said. “So I’m happy to make a motion to get this off of the ground.”
The town’s due diligence period ends Oct. 12 and staff anticipate closing on the Snowmass Inn property in mid-November.
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This weekend we go local. After the bacchanalia that was the Food & Wine Classic last week, we turn to Snowmass for a kinder, gentler wine gathering as the 19th Snowmass Wine Festival gets underway.