Developers want to expand Willits Town Center
The developers of the Willits Town Center project in Basalt have found a winning formula and want to seize the moment by expanding what’s already one of the largest projects in the midvalley’s history.The owners have held preliminary talks with the Basalt town staff on adding 100,000 square feet of residential development to nearly 500,000 square feet of commercial and residential space already approved, said town planner Susan Philp.Willits Town Center is just upvalley from the El Jebel City Market.Philp said the developers want to add more free-market residences by adding third stories to buildings approved for the town center. The staff is reviewing the request and hasn’t passed a recommendation on to the planning commission or Town Council.The developers’ original thought was to convert 100,000 square feet of office space that was previously approved into residential space because they found little demand for second-story offices. Although that would have kept the overall size of the project the same, town officials balked at altering the approved mix and snuffing opportunities to add businesses, Philp said.Managing partner Michael Lipkin came back with a plan to add the third stories to the buildings rather than convert office space, Philp said. No formal application has been submitted yet, but Philip alerted the Town Council about the talks in a recent report to the board.Lipkin didn’t return telephone calls seeking comment about the request. It appears he and his partners, Paul Adams and Clay Crossland, based their request on their recent success.All 44 lofts on the second and third stories of the Triangle Park Lofts building are sold even though construction of the building isn’t completed, said Wendy Lucas, who has the listing on those lofts as a real estate agent with Morris and Fyrwald.Sales started in August 2004, and the last unit sold in December, Lucas said. Asking prices rose after the sales of every six to eight lofts. Sales prices started at $320 per square foot and ended at $550 per square foot, Lucas said.The Triangle Park Lofts building is in the town core. The three-story structure totals about 26,000 square feet.Groundbreaking on another loft building, called the Market Street Lofts, could be as soon as May, Lucas said. That building will also feature 44 lofts, from studios to three-bedrooms. Prices will pick up where they left off at the Triangle Park building.Fifty percent of the units in the Market Street building are under contract even though construction hasn’t started, Lucas said.She said the new product, high-end finishings in the units and the appeal of living in a new town center attracted buyers at both loft buildings.The Willits project also has a separate residential village of 550 single-family homes, townhouses and condominiums. About half of those units have been built.Willits’ success is one of several signs that Basalt’s economy has jumped to life. Other signs include:n The Roaring Fork Club’s application to add 32 luxury cabins, 15 single-family home lots and 36 employee housing units at its private golf and fishing club.n The resurrection of the Stott’s Mill project. The proposal is for 28 multifamily apartments or townhouses; between 54 and 74 single-family homes of between 2,200 and 2,700 square feet; and seven single-family homes on larger lots. An earlier application was pulled, about three years ago, because of neighborhood opposition.n Approval of a 54-unit, 48,000-square-foot condominium-hotel project along Highway 82 at the Basalt Bypass.n The 32,000-square-foot Mid-Valley Wellness Center has been approved adjacent to the Mid-Valley Clinic. Dave Jensen, a Basalt chiropractor who is building the wellness center, is seeking a building permit to start construction this spring.Philp’s latest report to the council said the staff is checking four other development applications to see if they are complete before formal review begins. Numerous landowners have held pre-application discussions with the town planning staff to explore development potential.
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UPDATE 5:27 p.m. — Interstate 70 through Glenwood Canyon has reopened in both directions Saturday evening after a safety closure due to a flash flood warning. There were no reported mud/debris slides.