Mel B

According to a puff piece in last week’s edition of the Snowmass Sun — where, oh where is Johnny Boyd when we need him — the current Base Village development partnership headed by Andy Gunion announced it’s planning to ask permission to make a few changes in its development plans which were approved by the Snowmass Village Town Council in 2004 and 2015. 

Gunion peppers his glowing remarks regarding potential changes in the future buildout of Base Village and surrounding territory with diminutive words such as “small architectural tweaks” and “minor amendments.” 

But those changes are anything but diminutive or minor, and some will likely impact the guideline metrics which were established to ensure the economic viability and sustainability of our resort community well into the future.

I believe SkiCo misled the town council and community in 2015 when requesting to accelerate the phasing of the Fanny Hill Townhome project. SkiCo expressed the need to commence construction of the project concurrent with construction of the Limelight Hotel in order to fund construction of the hotel. The clear message being: If the council didn’t allow them to go forward with the Fanny Hill project earlier than previously provided in their original approvals, there would be no Limelight. Not wanting to risk losing the hotel, the council succumbed to SkiCo’s threat. 

From the town’s perspective, the Fanny Hill project was always intended as the icing on the cake to ensure timely completion of the Base Village core. Thus, no building permit for the project until that obligation was fulfilled.

SkiCo’s rhetoric was total BS since they obviously raised the hotel funding from some other source without having to commence concurrent construction on the Fanny Hill project.

With their accelerated building timeline now in hand, but obtained using misleading representations, and the skyrocketing sales prices of Base Village residential units, SkiCo is now looking at something a lot grander for Fanny Hill than what was originally approved. 

Rather than five duplexes, SkiCo now wants to build a luxury community consisting of 10 large, single-family separated houses directly adjacent to the Fanny Hill ski run. As characterized by Gunion, the houses will be set in a “cool pedestrian village people can ski in and out of.” 

What’s not mentioned is that cool pedestrian village will negatively impact all the heavy skier traffic traveling the already compromised and narrow ski corridor leading to the Six-Pack, Base Village and beyond to Assay Hill.

Remember all the pretty concept drawings shown to the community during the original Base Village approval proceedings? Nothing appeared as imposing and monstrous as what we now see at the entrance to Base Village. I’m sure Gunion, SkiCo and their development team will create lots of pretty pictures once again, but be careful, the final product will likely look and feel a lot different when actually built on the heavily trafficked Fanny Hill ski corridor.

As recommended in my last column, before confronting the developer’s plans for more changes in the approved but yet-to-be-built Base Village buildings 10 A&B, 11, 12, 13B (the Viceroy annex) and the cool pedestrian village on Fanny Hill, the town council should first commission a midcourse audit to determine what has been built so far compared to what has been approved for the full buildout of Base Village. 

During the early Base Village planning process to determine what the necessary critical mass needed to be to ensure the economic viability and sustainability of the resort, economic studies were commissioned as well as site visits to other winter/summer resorts to establish the necessary underlying metrics. When packaged together, they ultimately were labeled for short-hand purposes as “just big enough.”  

The number of units, hot beds, occupants and daily spending patterns were all factored into a formula to achieve a targeted commercial-square-foot revenue goal which the outside independent economic consultants stated was necessary to ensure the economic viability and sustainability of the resort community well into the future. 

As part of this process, assumptions were also made concerning the Mall, the West Village and Snowmass Center. The rest of the village was already mostly built out and any future limited development was provided for in the community’s Comprehensive Plan.

Concurrent with contemplating future changes in the remaining buildout of Base Village, the town council, earlier this week, commenced its detailed review of the plans to update and significantly expand the aging Snowmass Center and the areas surrounding it.  

During the planning commission’s review of this project, the applicant’s development team stonewalled suggested changes in the plans that were intended to make the project safer, more operationally efficient and beneficial to the community, as well as to lessen the negative impact of another massive development just across the road from Base Village. 

With the center owner’s dreams of a huge payday to be derived from the sale of lots of new high-end residential units exceeding 100 percent of the approved buildout for this property, there’s lots more work the applicant’s development team needs to do to eliminate to the greatest extent possible the negative impacts of this project. They should also significantly improve the benefits offered to the community, such that those benefits are more fairly aligned with the substantial benefits that will accrue to the center’s owner.

Your comments are welcome at justmel1@earthlink.net & Twitter @MelDBlumenthal