Construction on water, sewer lines could resume this fall, lodging project looks to build next summer
The first major building project in Base Village since the recession will go before the Snowmass Village planning commission today, as the bureaucratic gears start up once again on the long-stalled development.
Snowmass Acquisition Co. LLC, an affiliate of Base Village owner Related Cos., is seeking the town’s approval for minor changes to the second phase of the Viceroy Snowmass condominium hotel.
If the planning commission signs off, the changes could go before Town Council later this summer, and construction could begin next spring on the final Viceroy building, said Dwayne Romero, president of Related Colorado, on Tuesday.
Construction on new sewer and water infrastructure for the 1 million-square-foot Base Village — 429,000 of which was completed before the project stalled — could begin as soon as this fall, he said.
It’s been a long, litigious road back for Base Village. Construction stalled in 2009 amid the recession, and the project went into receivership after four European banks in 2010 foreclosed on loans made to a previous development entity.
Snowmass Acquisition bought Base Village, which at one point was at the center of multiple court fights over $500 million in loans, for $90 million in 2012.
Since then, Romero has urged patience. In an interview Tuesday, he called the Viceroy’s second phase part of the company’s “crawl, walk, run” process.
Finishing the Viceroy lays “the groundwork for a larger set of master plan amendments that we are currently working on,” he said. “We envision [those amendments] coming back to town no sooner than the fall of this year.”
Buoyed by the sale this winter of 49 units in the current Viceroy, which operates as a hotel but offers individual units for sale, plus the addition of the Westin Snowmass Resort, Romero said he believes the town is seeing a gradual recovery.
The Viceroy condos sold for substantially less than before the recession, ranging from $225,000 for a 650-square-foot studio to $2 million for a four-bedroom penthouse.
Even so, the sales helped Related “gain confidence to move forward,” Romero said. “As part of our business plan, step one, we needed to establish a market where buyers and sellers can link up. [The sales have] been a very positive, supporting piece of evidence.”
The minor amendments before the planning commission today concern the configuration of the second-phase units, which will be comprised of studios up to three-bedroom penthouses.
Originally planned to have 72 residences, Related wants only 67 in the second phase’s 86,000-square-foot, five-story building. The biggest change would be from an originally planned 25 studios to 15, and increasing the number of two-bedroom units from 24 to 37.
All told, the changes would add about 2,600 square feet over what had been approved in 2008, said Steve Alldredge, Related spokesman.
The developer also wants to build a larger fitness center, and change the affordable-housing component from sale to rental.
Steve Ferris, the town’s community development director, said staff is recommending approval for the new plans.
The additional square footage is not substantial, he said. The fitness center plan involves relocating a handful of parking spaces in the Base Village parking garage and is “nothing that we can’t resolve,” Ferris said. “It’s mostly resolved already.”
Demand from Related and Viceroy employees spurred the plan to change the affordable housing, which is required by the town, from sale to rental, according to the developer’s amendment application.
“In addition, the applicant believes that ownership of a condominium unit within a short-term occupancy hotel/lodge setting is less than optimal,” the application says.
Snowmass Village’s housing department manager, Joe Coffey, said in a memo to town planners that he was pleased with the new plan.
“I think rental units will fit into lodge- and hotel-type buildings better than sale units,” he wrote. “Allowing the applicant to rent the units to their employees first ... and then allowing the housing department to fill any remaining units seems appropriate, too.”
Related is not free from town pressure, however. Coffey said he wants to know how the developer came up with a base rent for its affordable housing of $1.77 a square foot.
That would put monthly rents about $400 higher than apartments rented by the town, Coffey wrote.
And a memo from town engineer Dean Gordon to planners notes that the developer has yet to build a roundabout at Brush Creek and Wood roads, a requirement under the original approvals.
“Public works staff is concerned about ‘Base Village development creep’ that continues to add pressure to this intersection without the needed improvements,” Gordon wrote.
Besides the Viceroy phase two, still-unbuilt portions of Base Village’s initial approvals include an aquatic center and a performing arts venue, as well as significant commercial and residential space.