Commissioners will continue review until Feb. 25
SNOWMASS VILLAGE — In the original review of the Base Village application undertaken more than a decade ago, elected and appointed officials conducted extensive studies, surveys and site visits before approving a project that was supposedly “just big enough.”
Too much commercial activity could create cannibalism among business owners, consultants told town representatives. On the flip side, an inadequate amount of retail and restaurant outlets wouldn’t generate enough vitality to sustain a viable development.
As the Snowmass Village Planning Commission gears up to prepare a recommendation on the sketch plan application for the Base Village major PUD amendment, it is grappling with some of the same questions that were supposedly answered in the early 2000s, including “what is the right size for the commercial component of this development?”
That issue dominated Wednesday night’s regularly scheduled meeting, with the project’s master developer, Related Colorado, maintaining that less is more and commissioners questioning why they should allow a reduction in square footage of retail and restaurant space when only 40 percent of the entire project has been completed.
“We don’t need more businesses. We need more people,” said Scott Calliham, operator of the Base Camp and Slice restaurants, in support of the developer’s request.
Calliham and two other owners offered testimonials about the challenges faced in a resort where businesses have just five months to make their annual income.
Commissioner David Rachofsky has remained the most steadfast in not allowing the reduction in commercial square footage, in part because of the unfinished nature of the project, but also because revenue projections for how much is being generated are currently falling far below estimates.
“When the residential construction is complete, there will be plenty of people to patronize the retail and restaurant establishments,” Rachofsky said.
Tim McMahon of Incline Ski Shop, who is a partner in Blazing Adventures, raised an issue that also seemed long settled by the original 2004 Base Village approval. While touting the “mom and pop” commercial businesses on the Snowmass Village Mall, he decried the specter of retail expansion in Base Village, admitting to being “nervous if you start to add significant commercial space at Base Village.”
Photo by Madeleine Osberger/Special to the Aspen Daily News
While that type of cannibalism was originally a concern of mall business owners, to date it hasn’t materialized. Rachofsky has maintained that’s partly due to a commercial mix in Base Village that’s limited at best.
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