Lowe submits outline for Basalt riverfront parcel hotel development


Proposal calls for 55,000-square-foot lodge, Art Base facility

Lowe Enterprises, the contract purchaser of the controversial 2.3-acre chunk of land known in Basalt as the “CDC parcel,” on Tuesday filed a pre-development application with the town.

According to a letter sent to Susan Philp, Basalt’s director of planning, by Lowe principal James DeFrancia, the plan is to construct a development encompassing a total of 70,000 square feet, which would encompass about 1.3 acres of the CDC parcel.

The letter states that the proposed construction represents about 18 percent less than the maximum floor-area ratio permitted in Basalt’s C-2 zone district, in which the CDC parcel lies.

“The remaining approximate one-acre portion,” according to the pre-application letter, “would be available for public acquisition by the town for addition to the park land already owned by the town, located between the CDC parcel and the [Roaring Fork] river.”

The portion of the CDC parcel that Lowe Enterprises is looking to develop is that which borders the Rocky Mountain Institute site, Two Rivers Road and the existing 2.5-acre parkland owned by the town.

The proposed uses include a 55,000-square-foot destination hotel — using a condominium hotel financial structure — which will include a front desk, lobby/living room entry, meeting space, fitness/gym facility, swimming pool and administrative offices.

Height of the structure would be two-and-a-half stories — described in the pre-application letter as “three stories with the third level set back in a ‘wedding cake’ format to reduce apparent mass.”

Parking would be underground with spaces divided between public use and those reserved for hotel guests.

Additionally, a separate 15,000-square-foot structure would be developed for the The Art Base, a non-profit entity now located in a small building in Lions Park. In addition to Art Base functions, the building would house a public meeting space of approximately 1,500 square feet, a restaurant space of approximately 3,000 square feet and an outdoor retail space covering about 500 square feet.

The remaining 10,000 square feet would be used by The Art Base itself, with gallery space, workshops, meeting space and administrative offices.

The plan is for Lowe to construct the hotel, which would then be operated by an affiliate, known as Destination/Two Roads Hotels. The Art Base would be dedicated by Lowe to The Art Base organization, with a Lowe financial commitment for a portion of the construction cost. The balance of the construction cost would be born by The Art Base itself.

Lowe would plan to manage the actual construction, in coordination with The Art Base.

Leasing and management of the restaurant and retail space would be undertaken by Destination/Two Roads Hotels in conjunction with hotel operations.

In exchange for dedication of The Art Base site, infrastructure improvements and contributions to the construction of The Art Base facility, the town government would, according to the pre-application letter, waive any affordable housing obligations, waive certain fees associated with the development and forego any reimbursement of prior town expenditures for the earlier site improvements with the removal of the Pan & Fork Trailer Park.

“We have been involved in a lot of discussions with the Basalt town staff,” DeFrancia said Tuesday, after the pre-development application was submitted to the town. “We have been following the political situation and we are well aware of the vote last November, wherein the proposed town purchase of the property got turned down by the voters.

“We know there are people who want no development on that parcel and that there are people who want a lot of development,” DeFrancia said. “You can’t please everybody. We hope this will be an acceptable compromise.”

DeFrancia said he would expect the development application process to last about a year.

“We will need to spend a few months in the pre-application process, in dialogue with town staff, getting the formal application ready,” he said. “Then, through the design phase, we will have to work through the planning and zoning process. Then it would go before the town council and the usual public comment process would begin.”

DeFrancia stressed that Lowe enterprises has “a long and incredible history in the Roaring Fork Valley.”

“We are not a fly-by-night operation or carpetbaggers” he said. “Our legacy project is the Gant, which we built in Aspen 40 years ago. We were also behind a high-end subdivision called Ute Place. We operate a number of properties in Snowmass Village. We do a good job and hopefully that gives us some standing in the community.”

DeFrancia thinks the proposed CDC parcel project will be good for Basalt.

“I think this will add to the vitality of Old Town,” he said.