Residences at Little Nell facing deadline lawsuitFour parties that signed contracts to purchase interests at the soon-to-be completed The Residences at The Little Nell are asking a judge to declare their contracts terminated and order the developer to refund their earnest money. The buyers say that delays in the project’s completion allow them to trigger an escape clause in the purchase contract. If successful, they would force the Residences to refund a total of $1,875,000 in earnest money, according to the lawsuit filed in Pitkin County District Court. The developer of the project, Residences at Little Nell LLC, sent an e-mail to buyers late last month reassuring them that the project would be ready sooner than once feared. Closings could begin as soon as this month, according to a report in the Aspen Times.
Entrance to Aspen options to go to voters
A team of consultants led by former CDOT engineer Ralph Trapani presented details on four options for completing upgrades to Highway 82 into Aspen to the Aspen City Council.
The modified direct, which reroutes the highway across the Marolt Open Space and directly connects with Main Street with a new bridge over Castle Creek, is the most expensive at an estimated $62 million.
The modified direct would be buried underground in a “cut and cover” tunnel for as much as 400 feet. The top of the tunnel would be grade level open space. The existing section of highway between Maroon Creek Road and Cemetery Lane would be torn up and turned into open space. Net open space loss would be 1.9 acres.
The team also analyzed two versions of the split shot, which modified direct opponents have proposed as an alternative. The split shot directs inbound traffic across the Marolt Open Space and a new bridge, and outbound traffic on the current alignment through the s-curves and across the old Castle Creek Bridge.
One version envisions a new roundabout at Cemetery lane would cost approximately $35 million. The other, with a grade-separated interchange at Cemetery Lane, is estimated at $52 million.
The roundabout split shot would consume 4.2 acres of open space, while the interchange option requires 7.4 acres. Both split shot options would result in the isolation of the neighborhoods between Seventh Street and Castle Creek, making access to town particularly inconvenient for people living there.
Creating a reversible lane on the existing alignment would cost the least, at approximately $8 million. The reversible lane option would have no impact on open space. It would require that some of the access off Hallam and Seventh Streets be permanently closed.
City Council is expected to refer the options to voters next year. Mayor Mick Ireland told ABOR that one ballot option under consideration is to have four separate questions, one for each alternative, in order to determine which is truly most popular.
Aspen Area Community Plan update under way
The latest update of the Aspen Area Community Plan is well under way. It is being coordinated and managed by Design Workshop and several other planning and marketing firms in Aspen.
It is a markedly shorter process than those used to develop and then update the AACP in 1993 and 2000.
Aspen Community Development Director Chris Bendon told ABOR that the process being used for the current update is designed to tap people’s opinions without requiring long meetings held over many months. He said participation levels during the 1993 and 2000 AACP process declined sharply as the work of citizen boards stretched on and on.
So far, the City and its consultants have released the State of Aspen Area report outlining the community’s demographic, general business and government trends over the last 8 years.
In late October, the City also released a white paper titled “The Aspen Economy” that provides detailed historical analysis of key aspects of the local economy, including housing and real estate, retail and restaurants, demographics, lodging and the like. Both reports can be downloaded off the website: www.aspencommunityvision.com.
The City and its consultants have been holding small group meetings and conducting a survey of the community. Large group meetings of 350 or more are set for February.
The revised Aspen Area Community Plan will then go to the city’s planning and zoning commission and city council for review next year.
Tourism drop expected in December
ASPEN — Business in Aspen could drop between 5 and 15 percent this holiday season, according to estimates from the Aspen Skiing Co. and other local businesses.
Current bookings at Skico indicate a 12-13 percent drop over last year, but that number is expected to change as the Christmas and New Years holidays approach.
Aspen Skiing Co. Executive VP David Perry said the company will hire the same amount of staff as last season. At the busiest times of the year, it will employ about 3,500 workers at its four ski areas, the Little Nell Hotel and the Snowmass Club.
ACRA plans standard marketing campaign
ACRA officials have cut their overall marketing, advertising and promotional budget from $650,000 last year to $636,000 this year, but are planning to market Aspen as aggressively as in years past.
ACRA Marketing Director Lisa Johnson told the Aspen City Council that the marketing campaign will have the same kind of emphasis as in years past, both in terms of message and medium.
Task Force working on revisions to Historic Preservation code
A citizen task force convened in the wake of the controversy over Ordinance 30 has been working on the issue of historic preservation since March.
Five subcommittees are working on various aspects of Historic Preservation, crafting recommendations for the City Council. The subcommittees are reviewing economics and incentives, architecture, criteria, voluntary versus involuntary designation and the concept of historic districts.
The task force meets every other Thursday afternoon in City Hall council chambers.
Jazz Aspen announces major changes
Jazz Aspen Snowmass announced changes to both its June Festival and Labor Day Festival.
The June Festival will occur over two weekends next June. The first weekend, June 18-20, will feature big name and up and coming acts at the Bayer -Benedict Music Tent. It is the first time the event has overlapped with the Food & Wine Magazine Classic. The second weekend, June 25-27, will feature JAS Academy students and established artists performing at a variety of venues around town.
The Labor Day Festival will be shortened from four to three days.
When Jazz Aspen first started in 1991, its events were held at the music tent.
Jewish center in negotiations to buy Silver Lining RanchASPEN — Chabad of Aspen is negotiating to purchase the former home of the Silver Lining Ranch at the end of Ute Avenue. Andrea Jaeger’s Silver Lining Ranch was built to be a getaway for children with life-threatening diseases. The property includes facilities totaling approximately 15,000 square feet on more than 6 acres.
Jaeger ceased operations here in 2006 and moved the organization to Durango. The property was listed on the market in 2006 for $25 million, but the price was dropped to $20 million this year, according to the listing real estate agent.
Rabbi Mendel Mintz, director of Chabad of Aspen, said the talks between his congregation and Jaeger started up after the City of Aspen stated its desire that the property be sold to another nonprofit rather than a private developer. Chabad of Aspen has been planning to build a permanent site for its Jewish Community Center on Main Street at the site of the L’Auberge Lodge. If it successfully purchases the Silver Lining Property, the Jewish Community Center would occupy existing buildings at the end of Ute Ave.
Pitkin affordable housing mitigations fee increase still in works
PITKIN COUNTY – Pitkin County Attorney John Ely told ABOR that revisions to the affordable housing mitigation regulations that govern development in unincorporated portions of the county are still in the preliminary stage.
The commissioners and county staff have been considering changes that would dramatically increase the amount of cash a developer would have to pay in lieu of building affordable housing on a development site.
The County Commissioners may discuss the changes at one of their Tuesday work sessions in December, Ely said. No action is expected until next year.
Growth management for Basalt moves ahead
A new growth management system to govern development in Basalt began to take shape earlier this month.
In a Nov. 10 meeting with planning consultant Alan Richmond, the council signed off on an number of broad policy directions that will determine how the new regulations work. There is currently a moratorium on most development applications in Basalt, while the town planners and consultants create the growth management system.
The new rules will encourage development proposals to meet the town’s goals on affordable housing, house size, energy and resource conservation, resident occupancy, location, transit orientation, trails and other areas. Developers will need to meet a certain threshold toward meeting those goals in order to make it past growth management review and into the regular land use review process.
“The town is basically saying it doesn’t want to look at whatever [application] comes forward, but those that meet town priorities,” Richmond told ABOR.
And the new rules will likely set a maximum rate of growth, so once a certain amount of square footage clears growth management review and enters full review no more applications will be allowed.
New residential development and redevelopment projects will be governed by the new growth management rules, as will major residential expansions. Commercial and lodging developments will also need to go through growth management.
The types of development that are exempt from growth management include affordable housing, public facilities, minor residential projects and historic landmarks. Free market projects that have already been approved are also exempt.
The revisions will be before Town Council again early next year.
Basalt requests denial El Jebel development
The Basalt Town Council asked Eagle County not to approve a development proposal that would add 249 residences and almost 95,000 square feet of commercial space in El Jebel.
The developer, Ace Lane, contends that his latest proposal for the land surrounding the Kodiak water ski lake, across Highway 82 from the Willits Conoco station, deserves a fair hearing because it will be one of the greenest communities ever built in Colorado.
Among the green elements: - A 200-kilowatt photovoltaic solar farm , representing an estimated 25 percent of each home’s daily energy consumption.- Two micro-hydro plants constructed on the ditch network that will supply water for irrigation.- Design standards that promote energy conservation- About 2,700 trees would be planted to offset greenhouse gas production.- Units will be clustered with an extensive trail network between the residential neighborhoods and the commercial areas.- All units would be within a quarter mile of transit. Basalt elected officials said the objected to the Ace Lane proposal because it would create a competing residential and commercial area to nearby Willits.
The Roaring Fork Regional Planning Commission, an arm of Eagle County government, is scheduled to start the review of Lane’s plan Dec. 4.
WestPac gets OK for Little Nell Hotel and welcome center
The Snowmass Town Council authorized Related WestPac to build a temporary welcoming center and proceed with construction of the Little Nell Hotel with minor changes.
The council agreed to the changes for the Little Nell, which is fully funded, after it was separated from a larger application to change the uses and layout of other buildings at Base Village. The Little Nell Hotel building has the funding in place necessary to build it, and work on the foundation is already complete.
The temporary arrival center is likely to be in place at least two seasons, according to reports. It will open on Dec. 20. It is necessary because of funding issues related to the international credit crisis that have delayed work on three buildings at Base Village.
Sunlight proposal moves ahead despite negative recommendation
Garfield County – Sunlight Ski Area will move ahead with a major redevelopment application, despite a recommendation for denial by the Garfield County Planning and Zoning Commission.
The plan includes 830 residential units and 110,000 square feet of commercial space near the resort’s base. Sunlight and the developers say the real estate would fund on-mountain improvements such as new lifts, more terrain, a mountain-top restaurant and more snowmaking.
The P&Z’s concerns about the development include inadequate road improvements on Four Mile Road, a lack of affordable housing, and likely urban-level impacts on fire and police services
Hunt Ranch back on the market for $17 million
Garfield County – The 561-acre Hunt Ranch on Missouri Heights, next to the King’s Row Subdivision, is on the market for $17 million.
A Vail-lead investment group, Hunt Ranch LLC, acquired the property for $8 million in March 2006.
Neighbors mounted a well-organized campaign against the 93-home development proposal, and the Garfield County commissioners denied it 2-1 in October.
Originally published by the Aspen Board of Realtors Dec 1, 2008