Basalt council scattered on Pan and Fork uses
The Aspen Times
The Basalt Town Council is making progress on all issues except the biggest one regarding the future of the Pan and Fork property.
The council, which added three new members in the April 5 election, is scattered on how the private part of the 5.3-acre site of a former mobile home park should be used. The public will soon get a chance to weigh in when the Planning and Zoning Commission holds a public hearing on a yet unspecified date.
Councilmen Bernie Grauer and Mark Kittle said they would support a hotel or condominium-hotel as an anchor tenant. Councilwomen Katie Schwoerer and Jennifer Riffle said they could support a hotel but not a condo-hotel. Mayor Jacque Whitsitt and Councilman Gary Tennenbaum said they wouldn’t support any type of use that would put people living and sleeping next to what is supposed to be a showcase park and activity center for the town.
“I don’t want to see residential-type uses there,” Tennenbaum said, noting that he’s been consistent with his stance.
Tennenbaum and Whitsitt also said they cannot support putting residential uses back there after the town invested so much time and effort removing residents of 53 mobile homes from the site.
Tennenbaum said he would whole-heartedly support hotel uses at the old Clark’s Market site, home to the Habitat For Humanity Restore.
Economic driver needed
Grauer countered that a condo-hotel is one of the best ways for Basalt to revitalize a downtown that he said is ailing. He said he supports the idea of acquiring some of the privately owned property, combining it with land the town already owns along the Roaring Fork River and creating a signature park. However, the ballpark figure is that acquisition and construction of the park will cost around $5 million.
“I don’t think we can ignore the fundamental economics of the whole parcel,” he said.
The nonprofit Roaring Fork Community Development Corp. owns 2.4 acres of land closest to Two Rivers Road at the former Pan and Fork site. Lowe Enterprises has an option to buy the property and has said it favors a condo-hotel project on the site. Such projects have individual owners but the units can be rented out. The Gant and Aspen Square in Aspen are two examples of such properties.
Grauer indicated he would like to work with Lowe on the concept. “As far as the real economics, we only have one developer whose come knocking on the door,” he said.
The Town Council has previously indicated it would allow as much as 55,000 square feet of development on the privately owned part of the Pan and Fork. Grauer said that might be too much development for a condo-hotel. He said 45,000 square feet might be a “reasonable compromise.”
Kittle said he supports something like a 35-room hotel with a restaurant on the site.
Something in between
Schwoerer and Riffle supported a position in between their colleagues. They said they could support a hotel, but not a condo-hotel.
Riffle said if someone came up with $10 million to buy the property and preserve as much as feasible, she would jump at the opportunity. “We can’t count on a Prince Charming,” she said.
Therefore, there needs to be an economic generator on the property, and she expressed that a hotel is a good option. She said she wouldn’t support a condo-hotel and, no matter what is proposed, won’t support the town subsidizing parking for the development.
Councilman Auden Schendler could end up settling the differences in opinion. He was unable to attend Tuesday’s meeting.
The council gave the planning commission a green light to continue the work its put in over several months on four downtown properties — the old recycling site, Lions Park and the Clark’s site as well as the Pan and Fork. That will include a public hearing to ask residents what uses they want to see at the Pan and Fork.
The council also enthusiastically embraced the plans the Parks, Open Space and Trails committee has prepared for the site.
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