The Dancing Bear Aspen is requesting to build an 80-foot tunnel underneath Durant Avenue, which would connect its two private-residence structures.
The 8-foot-tall, 8-foot-wide tunnel would serve as passageway for fractional owners and employees, while alleviating pedestrian-vehicular conflict on Durant Avenue, according to a representative from Sunrise Co., the group that bought the Dancing Bear two years ago.
During high season, Teddy Farrell anticipates between 1,500 and 1,700 pedestrian trips across Durant Avenue, as well as 400 bus trips.
“We’re really just trying to put a nice touch on this for our owners and back-of-house operations, but also keep the level of safety and service for the community at the level it is now, without creating additional burden and impact on that intersection,” he said.
Aspen’s Planning and Zoning Commission will review the project on May 6, when a recommendation will be formulated for the Aspen City Council.
Farrell said the tunnel would not be “breaking any new frontiers” in Aspen, citing a service tunnel at the Little Nell, an underground garage at the Hyatt Grand Aspen and a bridge at the St. Regis Aspen Resort.
However, those structures do not necessarily cross city right-of-ways. Planning Director Jennifer Phelan said the street that the St. Regis bridge crosses is “most likely private within easement,” while the Hyatt’s garage is “most likely vacated right of way” with an easement over it for pedestrian access.
“I don’t think that’s a public right of way, so it’s not quite the same,” she said.
Phase I of the Dancing Bear — which has nine fractional-interest condominiums and the restaurant Brexi — opened on Monarch Street in 2009. Phase II — a project that stalled in the middle of construction in 2010 under a previous owner — is set to resume in July. Located on a lot formerly occupied by the Chart House restaurant, it will include 11 fractional-interest units.
If approved, construction of the tunnel would take place before Phase II ramps up. Farrell said that because the underpass is two floors below ground and will never be less then 11 feet from bottom of Durant Avenue, there will be no street closures.