Basalt looks for ‘plan B’ on space at Stott’s Mill | News


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Basalt’s town government is working on “plan B” for a spot in a new development that was reserved for a child care center.

No child care operator has been found for a 4,000-square-foot space at the new Stott’s Mill project, according to a memorandum from staff to the town council. The rent would be limited to 80% of the market rate for day care centers, or about $2,400 per month. The lease would have a five-year minimum.

“Town staff has been seeking a day care operator for the Stott’s Mill space by advertising through the Childcare Coalition meetings as well as contacting each of the existing midvalley day care operators individually,” the memo says. “Thus far, an interested operator has not come forward even though several of the current midvalley day care operations have discussed the potential with their respective boards and declined to pursue the space for a variety of stated reasons.”

Town Manager Ryan Mahoney said Saturday the primary reason there are no takers is the space isn’t big enough for most day care centers’ business models. Many operations provide care from infants to toddlers.

“It’s a more sustainable model,” he said.

The Stott’s Mill space is “a little too small for that spectrum,” Mahoney added.

Stott’s Mill is a residential project on 18 acres between the Southside neighborhood and Basalt High School. MSP Development Group broke ground in February 2021 on a project approved for 64 apartment units in four buildings and 49 single-family and duplex lots. During the review process, the development group and town agreed the developer would provide space for a public use, with the preferred use being a day care center.

The building that includes the day care core and shell will be completed this spring. Council members will hold a work session on Tuesday to discuss an alternative plan for its use. Mahoney noted that the ordinance approving Stott’s Mill reserves the space for another public purpose. The ordinance states that if the council cannot find an alternative use, the developer can convert the space into additional deed-restricted housing.

The developer has proposed converting the 4,000 square feet into four deed-restricted rental housing units. Town government is pondering other ideas.

“In the absence of a day care operation for the space, town staff has generally discussed other youth needs in the community with the Basalt Education Foundation and the Aspen Youth Center about the feasibility of operating a youth center in the space similar to the Aspen Youth Center,” the staff memo said. “Such a use would satisfy Master Plan objectives of establishing more opportunities for teenagers and older kids in the Basalt community. The Basalt Education Foundation and Aspen Youth Center representatives have expressed interest in the idea and believe that there is a path forward to operate a youth center in the space.”

Representatives of the developer, Basalt Education Foundation and Aspen Youth Center are expected at Tuesday’s work session, which is scheduled to start at 6:50 p.m. in Town Hall.

Establishing additional day care opportunities has been a major goal for Basalt town government in recent years. Another initiative to establish a center on land the town owns in Willits is still progressing. Council members approved a contract with Blue Lake Preschool in February 2022 to pursue construction of a facility on land in Willits that’s reserved for public uses.


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