Maintaining town’s character important
Hopes and fears were the topic of discussion at the Crested Butte Town Council work session on Monday, March 3, as council members talked about potential time-share development in Crested Butte.
“I guess it is really important to me that it fits into town and it’s not an eyesore,” said Town Council member Dan Escalante, noting he wanted developments to blend into Crested Butte’s architecture and feel. “I want to be proud of it when it’s finished and built.”
The Town has been considering adopting timeshare and fractional ownership regulations since developers came forward with Sixth Street Station, a timeshare development proposed on 20 vacant B-2 zoned lots formerly owned by the Kapushion family, between Gothic and Butte avenues, fronting Sixth Street. The development team includes Bob Brotherton, Watson Advisors (Ron Watson and Pat Montgomery) and Sunlit Architecture.
Developers have pitched the project as an approximately 40,000 square-foot hotel with 23 luxury suites. Developers say the project would have full-service, professional hotel management, a concierge service, full-body wet spa, and 120 underground parking spaces.
The developers have submitted their design plans to the Board of Zoning and Architectural Review and are working with the town on timeshare-fractional ownership regulations.
The Town Council has held two work sessions on timeshare regulations and had asked for further information about rules in other Colorado cities and towns. The new rules would govern all potential timeshares in Crested Butte, not just Sixth Street Station.
Crested Butte building and zoning director Bob Gillie explained on Monday night that Colorado municipalities take two routes—little to no regulations, or fairly heavy restrictions.
Telluride, Snowmass, and Steamboat have relatively few timeshare regulations, while Aspen has instituted more measures, such as requiring downtown timeshares to have a bar, restaurant or retail shop on ground level open to the public. Aspen also requires that timeshares not being used by an owner be rented for short-term rental to walk-in customers.
Crested Butte is leaning toward heavier regulations due to its desire to guarantee that some of the timeshare units will be available to the public—and not rely on owners not using their units, as Aspen does. In addition, the town wants to ensure that sales-tax generating rooms are available during “high”seasons.
However, the concept of requiring public availability for units with many co-owners is new and could be quite complicated.
“This takes it a step further,” said Gillie. “If we pass this, it will be cutting-edge in terms of what’s out there regulating timeshares.”
Sixth Street Station developers are lukewarm to the prospect of being required to set aside a certain percentage of room nights for public use. They say it’s unnecessary because units will typically be empty for periods of time—particularly after they’ve been owned for a few years.
In fact, Sixth Street Station developer Pat Montgomery told the Town Council on Monday night that the development is counting on being able to sell some room nights to the public in order to make its finances work.
“We’re going to have to have a lot of outside rentals,” he said. “That’s the only way we can get it to work. The project needs hot bed rentals and the town needs hot bed rentals. Our goals are the same here.”
The phrase “hot beds” is lodging parlance for hotel-like units that are available for public rental.
However, Gillie noted that some Town Council members were unsure that simple assurances would guarantee the availability of hotel-like rooms. “We’re being asked to take some of that on faith,” he said. “Not everyone is comfortable with that concept. That’s a fear—that we won’t get the public usage we want through owner-usage not happening.”
Town Council member Skip Berkshire noted that the Town Council was seeking to answer that through its timeshare regulations.
However, Berkshire cautioned the Town Council with his own fear—that the town cannot attract a new hotel purveyor. “There is no way we’re going to get someone to build a traditional hotel,” he said. “To a certain extent, we’re backed in a corner.” He urged the Town Council not to overburden the developers, noting that a single new hotel-like room would be a net increase to what the town has now.
Earlier, Montgomery had confirmed this notion, saying that developers first looked at a traditional hotel business model but could not make it work.
Berkshire asked Sixth Street Station developers to provide more information about their plans, potential timeshare usage and estimated public availability.
Mayor pro-tem Leah Williams closed the work session by noting her own fear and hope.
She said the town is in danger of losing its bed-base almost entirely to Mt. Crested Butte, which is expressing interest in developing more community-type services. She said more hotel-like rooms are needed in Crested Butte.
Williams’ hope, she said, was that a fair ordinance could be constructed. “I think we can work something out,” she said.
The town staff will continue to work on the regulations, which have not yet been drafted into an ordinance.