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Car wash eyes opening on prime Basalt real estate

Scott Condon
The Aspen Times
A vacant lot across from Big O Tires in Basalt could be the home of an automated car wash. The Town Council granted the first of two necessary approvals Tuesday. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)
Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times

IN OTHER ACTION

In other council action Tuesday:

•The board held an executive session with attorney Jeff Conklin to discuss a recent court ruling against the town government. The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled 3-0 that the town violated the Colorado Open Records Law repeatedly in 2012 by failing to provide specific information about the reasons for convening in executive sessions. For the record, the reason was Tuesday’s executive session was explicitly described.

•The board gave informal approval to an Arbaney Park Pool improvement plan that will be phased in over the next few years. The plan couldn’t be formally approved because the Parks, Open Space and Trails board must endorse the plan in a legally noticed building. The first phase of the project in 2020 would cost about $625,000. It would include men’s and women’s locker room renovations; installation of photovoltaic panels on the changing room roof and installation of shade sails. Formal approval by the council is expected on July 14. The project would then go out for bids.

One of the most visible vacant lots in Basalt is being eyed for a car wash.

The Basalt Town Council on Tuesday night gave the first of two approvals needed for an automated car wash at 115 Southside Dr., vacant land at the intersection with Cody Lane on the east or upvalley side of Big O Tires.

If approved, east-bound or upvalley traffic on Highway 82 will see a storage business, Big O Tires, the proposed car wash and a RFTA bus station when they first encounter east Basalt.

The applicant, the van Rooyen Group LLC, has a contract to purchase the land from Aspen Skiing Co. for $1.3 million, according to John Belkin, the developer’s attorney.

Belkin told council members the property is the right size and configuration for a higher-end car wash than currently exists in the Roaring Fork Valley.

“This is not a franchise. This will be one of a kind,” Belkin said.

In addition to the automated car wash, there will be numerous outdoor vacuums for customers to use. Similar types of facilities exist in Grand Junction, near Costco in Gypsum and several in Denver, according to Belkin. He said a lot of locals he knows take the opportunity to go to the similar car wash in Grand Junction while on trips there.

The 5,023-square-foot, single-bay, automated car wash will have a tunnel design and be built with “durable, high value materials,” according to the application. No drawing of the proposed structure was included in the application.

“We think it will look really nice,” Belkin said.

The council didn’t discuss the merits of a car wash at the site. Instead, their debate focused on a parking proposal. The applicant would be required to provide nine parallel spaces along Southside Drive per the town code. However, in talks with town staff, the von Rooyen Group proposed a broader parking plan to help ease congestion in the area. They will sell the town space for $28 per square foot that could be developed by the town government into off-street parking for roughly 20 vehicles. As proposed, it would cost the town about $104,000 to buy the land and $54,000 to build the parking spaces. Other alternatives favored a lease-to-own option that would reduce the cost or having the developer chip in more.

The idea of the town buying and developing the spots raised eyebrows of some council members.

“I am struggling a little bit about why the town is being asked to acquire this right-of-way,” said Mayor Bill Kane.

Currently, a lot of on-street parking in the area is used by Big O and other businesses in the area.

“Why are we subsidizing Big O’s business model?” asked Councilman Glenn Drummond.

Councilman Ryan Slack said the proposal “seems like a lot of money for the town to pony up.”

Kane suggested the council separate the development application from the parking proposal to provide time for negotiations. The council voted 6-0 to approve the first reading of the application. A second reading will be required on July 14.

Kane said there is a legitimate community interest in getting vehicles off the street on Cody Lane and Southside Drive, so maybe a deal acceptable to both parties could be arranged.

Belkin told the board his client’s business won’t generate a large need for parking. Vehicles will enter the business, get a wash and depart.

The proposal for a 20-vehicle, off-street lot was an offer to help Basalt address a problem, he said.

“We’re not parking any cars,” Belkin said.

The property is expensive, so the developer is reluctant to fund construction of more parking spaces than necessary, Belkin said. But it is willing to sell land to the town so it can ease the parking shortage.

The council directed the town staff to put additional thought into the parking issue.

scondon@aspentimes.com


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