Eddie Zane is excited about the new housing that’s coming on line in Willits Town Center, as he plans his third tavern and sports bar for a sunny corner space by the new ANB Bank that opened in mid-July.
“The timing just seems right with all of the residential in Willits and the way it’s growing,” Zane said this week.
A growing permanent population base for Willits Town Center – a 14-block area approved for about 300,000 square feet of residential and 362,000 square feet of commercial space – is good news for restaurateurs and retailers alike, as well as people looking for housing in a scarce market.
Infrastructure on the seven rowhouses being developed in what’s called Block 11 – at the southernmost part of Willits – is now above ground with completion targeted for 2020. The luxury rowhouses will be the most expensive housing in Willits Town Center so far, with homes ranging from $1.3 to more than $1.5 million.
Just around the corner and a hop, skip and jump from where the new TACAW performing arts facility is planned, 43 units providing 150 bedrooms of workforce housing will be developed by Aspen Skiing Co. The project received final approval from the Basalt Town Council in July and includes eight units that will be open to other area employees, with a priority for childcare workers.
These two developments, one a high-end ownership project, the other likely to offer below-market rental rates, will help Willits Town Center inch closer to a more balanced ratio of commercial to residential development.
Of the 337 approved housing units, 212 have been built, according to Tim Belinski, president of IND Ventures, the representative, leasing agent and property manager for Willits owner Platform Ventures (formerly Mariner). Within that existing total are 89 deed-restricted units and “dozens and dozens of pets on site,” Belinski happily noted.
Some 267,141 square feet of the approved commercial square footage from the 2001 Willits Town Center PUD has been built. Of that, about 245,000 square feet of property are occupied, from the flagship Whole Foods and Element Hotel to local retailers, restaurateurs, an eye doctor, fitness facilities and some national franchises such as AT&T.
“I see the opportunity here,” said Zane, whose first local venture was a bar on the Snowmass Village Mall, which he followed with a tavern in downtown Aspen.
“The Mid-Valley’s just growing. I think it’s a good thing the ski company is trying to build housing for their employees. You’ve got townhomes mixed in with affordable housing.” Zane also referenced the forthcoming Tree Farm project that’s located across Highway 82 and could rival Willits in scale. “There’s something for everyone there,” Zane said.
Steady as she goes for 7 years
Willits Town Center, which broke ground in 2003 with the gas station and Alpine Bank building, followed by El Korita in 2005, was stalled by the Great Recession but restarted in 2012.
“Willits build out has been roughly one building a year since 2012, which has been fairly paced and a reflection of what the market demand has been,” Belinski said.
Commercial and residential developments are underway side-by-side within the Willits borders that span from East Valley Road and Lewis Lane to the roundabout that serves as a demarcation between Willits and the City Market complex.
A new Steadman sports medicine clinic will rise between the SkiCo’s housing and One 10 Harris, a 49-unit apartment complex spread over three floors that opened in February and which includes the latest high-demand amenity, a pet-washing station.
At the other end of the town center is Seven North featuring 27 deed-restricted units located behind Mezzaluna that are apportioned to the school district, fire district and town of Basalt. Below-grade parking is featured here and in the rest of the developed housing complexes in Willits Town Center.
During its approval from the town of Basalt, Aspen Skiing Co. successfully argued that Willits’ parking plan provided adequate parking and a designated garage for this complex was not needed. A walk-through of Willits’ garages on a busy summer afternoon, where empty spaces were plentiful, supported that analysis at this time.
SkiCo spokesman Jeff Hanle said there will be 46 off-street and 35 on-street spaces that SkiCo will lease and that the plans are unchanged from last month’s town ordinance and approval. Hanle said no monthly rental range for the units has yet been determined.
Willits Town Center housing
A total of 337 housing units, 212 of which have been built, are approved for the 14-block area in the Mid-Valley known as Willits Town Center. They include the following:
One Willits Place
Seven for-sale luxury rowhouses located in Block 11, on the southernmost parcel of Willits, which are currently under construction and priced between $1.3-$1.5 million. Phase 2, which could break ground by year’s end, includes 30 rental apartments and for-sale commercial space.
Triangle Park Lofts
Built in 2005, the 42 condos are the oldest residential housing in Willits Town Center and are individually owned.
Market Street Lofts
44 condominiums in the heart of Willits Town Center were completed in 2008.
One 10 Harris Place
This 49-unit apartment complex was finished in February and is the newest addition to Willits’ housing inventory. It took only two months for the one-, two- and three-bedroom complex to be fully rented.
Aspen Skiing Co.
A total of 43 rental units providing 150 bedrooms of workforce housing. Eight units will be open to other area employees with a priority for childcare workers. Both the start and completion dates are to be announced.
Twenty-seven deed restricted units are owned by RE-1 (23 units), Town of Basalt (two units) and Basalt and Fire Rural Fire Protection District (2). They are located behind Mezzaluna and adjacent to 50 apartments located above the commercial spaces that include Wienerstube and Hollyann.