Article by Madeline Osberger: Aspen Daily News Staff Writer
Snowmass Mall leads in overall sales; Center tops dollars-per-square-foot
The locally serving Snowmass Center generates more than twice the sales revenue per square foot than Base Village, one of Snowmass’ two resort-oriented nodes, according to figures shared Wednesday with the town’s planning commission. The discussion was in the context of the town’s comprehensive plan, which is being updated this year and will consider myriad factors, from quality of life to buildout.
In 2016, the Snowmass Center, which has as its anchor Clark’s Market, generated $633 per square foot in total sales revenue; the Snowmass Mall earned $376 per square foot and Base Village generated $307 per square foot, according to the 2017 Updated Sales Tax Nodal Report.
Neither Base Village nor the Mall have met the $400-per-square-foot goal that was envisioned more than 15 years ago. Since the Base Village approval, the town has monitored the revenue of all three commercial nodes.
“As such, these square footage numbers are not indicative of the overall town government fiscal health,” Town Manager Clint Kinney wrote in his report to the planning commission. The figures also don’t factor in lodging revenues.
But the numbers do serve as a benchmark for the newly restarted Base Village, Kinney said Wednesday, whose construction completely stalled after the Viceroy hotel was completed in 2009. Less than 40 percent of the approximately 1.1-million-square-foot project has been completed. In December 2016, the Base Village assets were purchased for $56.5 million from Related Cos. by a partnership of Aspen Skiing Co., East West Partners and KSL Capital.
Prior to issuance of the Base Village approvals in 2005, a group of town business and community leaders, then known as the Village Leadership Forum, developed an aspiration statement and from there, the concept of critical mass in the commercial core developed. A philosophy of “just big enough” became the buildout ethos.
Careful consideration was given to the sizing of Base Village to ensure there would be adequate vitality, but that its services also didn’t “cannibalize” existing mall businesses. The proper balance and programming of food and beverage, retail and entertainment facilities was seen as critical to the new base area node’s success.
A detailed analysis, which included algorithms of spending models, was produced by the EPS consulting firm and a $400-per-square-foot goal was seen as the achievable target for both the Snowmass Mall and Base Village. (The Snowmass Center wasn’t included in the initial analysis, which focused on the tourist-serving nodes.)
“Between the Mall and Base Village, approximately 130,000 square feet of primary space was determined to be necessary, and set as the goal, to attract and keep business viable and to keep the resort competitive in a mature and capital intensive marketplace,” according to the planning commission memo.
Mall remains economic engine
When adjusted for inflation, Base Village and the Snowmass Mall are improving but still underperforming. At least one planning commissioner on Wednesday advocated for a reset of the benchmarks to reflect the reality of today’s market conditions.
“Revenues per square foot have steadily increased since 2000 but have not yet reached $400/square foot for the Mall or Base Village,” Kinney’s memo stated.
In 2009, businesses in Base Village generated about $7.7 million in sales or $180 per square foot. Last year, Base Village had gross sales of $14.8 million, or $307 per square foot.
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