El Jebel, Basalt face development surge
ASPEN ” Basalt and El Jebel is on the front end of what could be an unprecedented surge of development.
Recently approved projects, along with development applications that are just entering the government review pipeline, could add roughly 1,675 residences and 600,000 square feet of commercial space to the area which covers the extreme southwestern part of Eagle County, according to an analysis of land use applications by The Aspen Times. That is the cumulative effect of the 12 largest projects looming in the two areas.
Some business owners have welcomed the prospect of more patrons. For example, Veranda Collection owner Kathleen Cole said at a Basalt meeting last month that the Roaring Fork Club members make it possible for some businesses to survive, and spoke in favor of the private golf club’s expansion.
But, the prospect of drastic growth has some Roaring Fork Valley residents fighting development approvals. The Tavaci plan in El Jebel, which would add 245 residences and 94,000 square feet of commercial space, has been criticized for the traffic it could create.
“I really don’t see how more is better,” said El Jebel resident Kris McKelvey at a recent public hearing on Tavaci held by the Roaring Fork Regional Planning Commission.
Leading the charge in the surge of development is the Willits project in an area that’s officially west Basalt, but that many people consider El Jebel. Although the project was approved years ago, it was included in the Times’ analysis because so much remains to be built.
Basalt approved 550 single-family homes, townhouses and condominiums in the Willits residential neighborhoods. Roughly half of the those units are built.
Another 400 lofts and condos plus 250,000 square feet of commercial space is approved in the Willits Town Center, where construction is just getting started.
Expect the dirt to fly at an accelerated pace in the town center. Joseph Freed and Associates, a national development firm based in the Chicago area, bought into the project last month for an initial price of $20 million. It immediately secured a $34 million construction loan.
Four other major projects have been approved by Eagle County or Basalt but haven’t been built yet. They include Willits Bend, 92,000 square feet of space for craftsmen and light industrial businesses with residential mixed in on the upper floors of buildings.
Also in that neighborhood is the Midvalley Wellness building where Dr. Dave Jensen plans to relocate his chiropractic business and build other health-oriented offices. The 23,000 square-foot office building will also have eight residences.
Along the Basalt Bypass, upvalley from Stubbies bar, the town government has approved an office building and hotel. Architect Harry Teague is constructing an 8,000-square-foot building with a residential loft on top.
Chicago developer and Aspen hotelier Ron Richmond has approval for a 54-unit, 48,000-square-foot condominium hotel. He hasn’t broken ground after acquiring approvals late last winter.
In El Jebel, a development firm from Dallas is digging into a rocky hillside to build a 100-unit luxury townhouse project called Shadowrock. Those units are expected to be priced beginning in the high $600,000s.
The robust economy has caused new development applications to stack up thicker than private jets on the tarmac of Aspen’s airport.
Five projects are waiting for review in Basalt. They are headed by the Roaring Fork Club’s request to add 32 luxury cabins, 18 single-family homes and 36 affordable housing units along with 28,500-square-feet of support services.
The latest application to join the stack is Basalt Trade Associate’s Basalt Design District project. Developers Clay Crossland and Paul Adams are proposing the project on a 9-acre site behind the Basalt self-storage garage along the road to Basalt High School.
The plan includes 40 residences plus 1.3 acres designated as “teacher housing.” Commercial development would include 81,000-square-feet of additional mini-storage; 70,000 square feet of industrial uses; and 20,000 square feet of office space.
Vail Daily, Vail, Colorado
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