Friday, November 15, 2019

Mt. Crested Butte agrees to collaborate on North Village

Mt. CB property included in conceptual design 

By Kendra Walker

North Village property owner Dr. Claudio Alvarez and members of his design team presented a conceptual site plan to the Mt. Crested Butte Town Council at their October 15 meeting, asking them for input in the design planning process. 

Alvarez’s vision is to create a village community for Mt. Crested Butte on the 140-acre property located on the northern edge of town. Council agreed to collaborate moving forward. 

“As you see from this plan we’re not doing what has been proposed for the last 15 to 20 years,” said Alvarez in reference to a potential ski area base village with nearly 2,000 residential and commercial units that had been planned for the site when Crested Butte Mountain Resort expected to develop ski lifts on Snodgrass. 

Alvarez continued, “Our approach to this area would be to bicycling, outdoor activities, lots of greenery, lots of views, very low density—a real community, a real village.”

The town owns a 17-acre parcel abutting the North Village site, called Common Area F (where the town campground is located), which has been discussed as a potential location for future workforce housing. The conceptual drawing of the North Village site plan uses this Common Area F for an affordable housing site, but Alvarez would need formal support from council to allow the property to be included into the overall design. 

Alvarez asked council to work with their staff to provide initial thoughts and plans for the parcel, along with their statistical needs for community housing, as it could be incorporated into the North Village project’s planning and infrastructure. “You’re a crucial part in deciding how the overall place is going to look for future generations,” he said. 

The 17 acres would not transfer ownership, but Alvarez and his team want to come up with a design that works for all entities involved in talks about the project, including the Rocky Mountain Biological Laboratory and Vail Resorts.

“We don’t own [the 17 acres] or control it, and we don’t want it or need it, but it’s beneficial for both parties to collaborate,” said project manager Crockett Farnell. “We just want to design all the rest of the infrastructure and roadways around it so it’s an effective community.” 

Gunnison architect and the Alvarez’s local representative, Jennifer Barvitski, added, “This is a phenomenal opportunity for the mountain to hit a restart button and dream big.” She referred to potential affordable housing residents on Common Area F that would help add to the overall vision for the project. “We want those people taking the trails all through the property, going to the village to grab their coffee and we need that interaction, we need that life.”

“Essentially we’ll be a partner going into this to design a great community workforce housing area,” said Mt. Crested Butte town manager Joe Fitzpatrick. “We have a lot of homework to do and work to do with them, but we have to start somewhere.”

“I think it sounds like a win-win situation,” said mayor Janet Farmer.

“It’s a no-brainer,” added councilman Dwayne Lehnertz. 

Councilman Nicholas Kempin reminded the council, “If we get further down the road and we decide it’s something we’re not interested in, we’re not committed.”

Some of the initial design ideas presented in addition to open space and affordable housing included potential retail, office space, a post office, restaurants, a new town hall, a boutique hotel and a lake/reservoir. 

Regarding the lake, “There is a very vague easement… The ski resort has reserved water rights for several 100 acre-feet of water to be stored in this reservoir location and also they have the access right to tap into the water and use it for snow making,” said Farnell. He explained that would require the building of a dam. “Implications of the construction of this dam are pretty severe and the most likely entry point would be through the town’s parcel.” 

Town staff plans to look into the easement to clarify the agreement, to consider Vail’s intentions and to see if the dam construction could be timed with the North Village project.

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