ASPEN - The city of Aspen and Centaur Construction have reached an agreement on the use of public parking spaces as a staging ground for redevelopment of the property at 204 S. Galena St., former site of the Gap.
According to a statement from the city, the agreement allows the builder to rent 19 city parking spaces at the corner of South Galena Street and East Hopkins Avenue from this month through Aug. 17. Previously, Centaur had asked for more than a dozen public parking spaces through part of December, when the project is scheduled to for completion.
The agreement also allows for the street to be clear for the USA Pro Challenge, a competitive cycling event planned for Aspen and Snowmass Village on Aug. 19 and 20. The race, which comes to Aspen for a third consecutive year, involves some of the world's top cyclists.
In addition, the company has committed to reducing the impact of its construction footprint on the Fourth of July, when thousands of residents and visitors head downtown for a parade on Main Street and through the commercial core. It also will maintain a pedestrian walkway through the duration of the encroachment on parking spaces, the city's statement said.
"The overall benefit to the city and its citizens and businesses is a greatly expedited project in exchange for the encroachment area and parking," the statement said. "This allows for no disruption to the bike race, all downtown activities for the remainder of summer and the latter half of the (Aspen Saturday Market)."
The plan to take up spaces through part of December irked some in the downtown business community, including Don Sheeley, chairman of the Commercial Core and Lodging Commission.
Sheeley said that although the spaces only will be taken from the downtown parking inventory through mid-August, he still is not happy about the situation.
"They are taking away parking spaces during the summer," he said. "People walk around in the summer, but they still need a parking place."
During a commission meeting Wednesday, Sheeley argued against the company taking up so many parking areas, but the other commissioners outvoted him and recommended to City Manager Steve Barwick that Centaur be allowed to use the spaces. Ultimately, the decision was Barwick's.
"It's a trade-off," Sheeley said of the agreement. "I don't think they need so many spaces. I gave it my best shot."
The developer, listed as 204 South Galena LLC, wants to replace the current building on the property with a new structure that would include five retail spaces, a second-story restaurant and an outdoor deck. Chicago real estate investor Mark Hunt is behind the development group.
Members of the development team - including Aspen architect Charles Cunniffe and Centaur's representatives - have said both sides of the corner are necessary for logistical reasons if the project is to be completed in eight months.
Centaur is expected to begin work on the project next week.