Zane’s Tavern expanding to Willits Town Center in Basalt along with bank, wellness center

Construction is nearly complete on a 49-unit apartment complex at Willits Town Center. Work will begin this winter on three small commercial buildings that will be east of the apartment complex.
Anna Stonehouse/The Aspen Times

Willits Town Center in Basalt is ready to start a new phase of development that will add a sports bar, wellness center and bank at the main entrance to the project.

Zane’s Tavern will open in one of the three new commercial spaces, according to Tim Belinski, a local representative of Platform Ventures, the owner and developer of much of Willits Town Center.

Belinski said American National Bank will take another of the small commercial buildings and a “wellness center” that has yet to be disclosed will locate in a third building.

All three stand-alone buildings will be constructed in winter and spring 2019 and be ready to open next summer, Belinski said. All three businesses are buying their spaces.

Platform Ventures was formerly known as Mariner Real Estate Management, which acquired Willits during the Great Recession. The commercial and residential center has been on a slow but steady roll with construction of new buildings and addition of new businesses over the past five years.

“Momentum is leading to more momentum,” Belinski said.

A 49-unit apartment complex is nearing completion off the Willits Lane roundabout at the entrance to the center. The three commercial buildings that feature Zane’s, ANB and the wellness center will be built just east of the apartment building. A small park will separate them.

The key to progressing on the latest project was separating the residential complex from the commercial buildings, Belinski said. Platform Ventures was unwilling to build the commercial spaces until businesses were signed as tenants or buyers. That would have delayed the start of the apartments if they were all under one roof. The town of Basalt allowed the separation of commercial and residential.

The 49 apartments are a mixture of one-, two- and three-bedroom units. The structure includes an underground parking garage. The exterior of the building is mostly complete and landscaping is underway. The apartments will be finished in January and they will be leased at market rates starting in February.

Belinski said the three adjacent commercial buildings will be “nicely scaled” to the area and highly visible. The bank building and Zane’s building will be one story. The wellness center will be a two-story structure.

Shopworks Architects of North Denver will design the commercial buildings. The firm also designed the apartment building.

Belinski said a sports bar will be a good addition to Willits and diversify what the growing center has to offer. The Willits lineup also features a brewpub at Capitol Creek Brewery, roughly two blocks away from Zane’s spot.

Zane’s has been a mainstay in Snowmass Village since the mid-1990s and added a tavern in Aspen in 2006. Its expansion downvalley will make it the fourth restaurant that has or had connections with Aspen to open in Willits. Other Aspen restaurants that have opened in Willits include Mawa’s Kitchen and Mezzaluna. Former Aspen institution the Weinerstube opened this fall at Willits several years after closing in Aspen.

Belinski said he was unable at this time to identify the business that will open the wellness center. Amanda Wagner, president and CEO of TAC Fitness and Wellness Center in Basalt, said she looked into acquiring the space at Willits Town Center, but negotiations weren’t successful.

“We spent months interacting and negotiating with the landlord representatives regarding this opportunity but we could never get to the finish line,” Wagner said.

Wagner said TAC has been growing both in programming and numbers of members for the past several years and anticipates continued growth. It is located on the second story of the building at 1460 E. Valley Road. in Basalt. Aspen Valley Hospital was interested in leasing that entire floor, so Wagner explored relocation options, including buying space at Willits or renting the former Clark’s Market/Habitat for Humanity Restore space in downtown Basalt.

“In addition to the amount of time we spent with Willits, we spent a serious amount of time trying to come to an agreement on the (downtown) space, but it is a complicated offering with many moving parts, and we came to the conclusion the lease amount that was being sought was just too high based on many factors,” Wagner said in an email.

In addition to handling negotiations with tenants and buyers at Willits for Platform Ventures, Belinski is the leasing agent for the owner of the downtown building where Clark’s Market once was located.

TAC will remain at its current location. Wagner’s partners in the fitness center also own the building it occupies. They have determined they will reduce the amount of space they will rent to Aspen Valley Hospital and remodel TAC’s space to better accommodate it in its current location.

Wagner, who is a native of Glenwood Springs, a young entrepreneur and president of the Basalt Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors, said seeking a new commercial space to rent or buy in the midvalley proved to be frustrating due to the actions of landlords or their representatives.

“One would think that a savvy landlord would see the inherent value in a successful business like ours becoming a tenant in their commercial building,” she said. “It continues to be strange times here in the midvalley with regards to the commercial real estate environment.”


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