New plan submitted for mixed uses, expanded park at Basalt’s Pan and Fork site
A developer with an option to buy the former Pan and Fork parcel in Basalt submitted an application Wednesday that seeks approval of free-market rowhouses and such public amenities as a home for the Art Base, a visitors’ center, affordable housing and a coffeehouse.
Basalt River Park LLC, led by businessman Tim Belinski, also will give the town government the opportunity to purchase about half of the property to expand the existing park adjacent to the Pan and Fork property. The current owner of the land, Roaring Fork Community Development Corp., is a co-applicant. The project is being called Basalt River Park.
Commercial and residential development would be limited to 49 percent of the 2.32 acres that the developer has under contract, according to the application. Basalt River Park’s option is for slightly more than $3 million.
“This land use application is provided to the Town with the over-arching goal of creating a balanced relationship between park land with open space and nature, intertwined with a sustainable neighborhood of development that supports downtown Basalt,” the application emphasized in its introduction.
“Recent public input and the effects of a defunct site have made it obvious that it’s time to gather a plan for the site, one that’s scaled down and redesigned from prior concepts,” the application continued.
The components of the plan include:
• Twenty-two rowhouses with 10 facing Two Rivers Road on the western side of the property and 12 units in duplexes facing the park on the Roaring Fork River.
• Six affordable-housing units adjacent to Two Rivers Road and east of the rowhouses.
• A 1,300-square-foot visitors’ center with a one-story, “prominent street-facing location.” The center would be a short distance away from the park, which will welcome visitors to take a break and explore, the application said.
• The Art Base, a community arts center, would have a one-story, 7,000-square-foot site with the potential for more space if it expanded to two stories. The building will set the tone for the commercial area with its size, mass and height. “It is the show stopper,” the application said. It is on the eastern end of the property, between the visitors’ center and a coffeehouse.
• The 800-square-foot coffeehouse bistro with a 200-square-foot patio would overlook the park at the east end of the development.
• Two outdoor spaces would be included, one an open plaza to provide a tent-ready space for the Art Base as well as community activities not associated with the arts center, and a second space where a seasonal tent could be set up on public park property.
The development team touted the project as one that infuses downtown with vitality without creating additional competition for shoppers and diners.
“Downtown will have a completed campus of buildings, an innovative new neighborhood that includes new downtown residents. Downtown Basalt will benefit from additional people living in its core, creating their own buzz for existing shop owners and other commercial operators,” the application said.
A 3,000-square-foot pedestrian path on the west side of the development, bordering the Rocky Mountain Institute Innovation Center, will provide public access to the river park.
Belinski said the application conveys his team’s vision for the project. Basalt River Park announced in February that it placed the property under contract. A previous developer, Lowe Enterprises, let its option on the land lapse after becoming frustrated with Basalt political wrangling over the site and Lowe’s uncertainty on how the council would react to a proposal.
The application for what’s known as sketch plan approval must be reviewed by the town planning staff and deemed complete before the review by the Planning and Zoning Commission and then Town Council can begin. The application urges the town to hold planning commission meetings in June and July and Town Council meetings in August. It’s unknown if the town will meet that request.
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A report released this month by the Center for Colorado River Studies says that in order to sustainably manage the river in the face of climate change, officials need alternative management paradigms and a different way of thinking compared with the status quo. Estimates about how much water the Upper Colorado River Basin states will use in the future are a problem that needs rethinking, according to the white paper.