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Snowmass Mall businesses: restart Base Village...soon!

Sep 21, 2015

Business representatives on the Snowmass Mall say they'd like to see the stalled Base Village project restart.
Credit Marci Krivonen

Elected leaders in Snowmass Village Monday (9/21) decided to put on hold a decision about whether to move forward a re-start of construction at the base of the ski resort. If a preliminary plan is approved, Base Village will move into its final design stage. Aspen Public Radio's Marci Krivonen reports.

The sticking point at Monday’s meeting was over a building in the preliminary plan set aside for “community purpose.” The developer Related Colorado is offering up what’s called Building Six to the town.

"I have had an opportunity as mayor to really think about “building six," said Mayor Markey Butler.

At the beginning of the four-hour discussion, Butler was in favor of taking a secondary offer of cash from the developer. The separate offers are on the table as a way to justify some of the changes Related Colorado made in its latest development plan.

Base Village stalled in the recession. With council’s approval, construction could restart in the spring on a new hotel, retail spaces, condos, affordable housing, a health clinic and Building Six. It could be home to a museum showcasing the town’s ice age fossil find.

Outside of council chambers, representatives of businesses on the Snowmass Mall are excited at the prospect of construction ramping back up.

Close to the ski lifts, Jack Rafferty builds custom ski boots at his retail space. He just wants the project completed.

"I think our customer base perceives it as confusion, knowing that this project has been stalemated now for 7 or 8 years. They know there was something happening and now it’s been in limbo forever. So, they really just need to get it done."

Inger Gernon is manager at the retailer Gorsuch.

"We are thrilled that maybe we are going to see the end of the construction and completion of Base Village. It has been way too long and I think we’re all ready to see it finished," she says.

With new retail space, she’d like to see shops other than ski gear retailers.

"We could really use a children’s store and some local-serving businesses if the rent is not too high."

Christine Newcomb is a bartender at Big Hoss Grill. She also lives in Snowmass. She’d like to see more restaurants in any new commercial space.

"I think it’s something we need right now because we’re starting to get a lot more tourists. I think bringing more people in by building up Base Village more will be better for the businesses all around."

The project is inching forward. Though mayor Markey Butler initially favored a cash payout from developer Related Colorado, she changed her tune later in the night.

"We’re willing to take the building," she said. "It has high degrees of risk, high degrees of unknowns, and it puts the town in a landlord situation, dealing with space that’s right there in the middle of Base Village."

After meeting with its attorney, council asked Related Colorado for building six and an additional $2.5 million. The developer rejected the offer at first, but eventually agreed to consider an altered variation. They will bring a new proposal to town council next week.