Editor’s note: This article has been altered from its original version because of a quote that was taken out of context.
The proposal to renovate a West End home up for a voluntary landmark designation will be heard by the Aspen City Council in the coming weeks, as the Historic Preservation Commission voted, 4-1, Wednesday night in support of moving forward despite concerns from neighbors.
The 9,231-square-foot lot, located at 301 Lake Ave., contains a single-family home designed by renowned architect Victor Lundy and built in 1972. The applicant is seeking development exemptions from the city in exchange for voluntary participation in the city’s Aspen Modern program, which was created to protect historically significant structures built in the 20th century.
The property owner also has the option to demolish the structure and replace it with a new single-family home, a split lot or a duplex. The owner is listed as 301 Lake Ave. LLC, which is in part controlled by Bill Baringer, who purchased the property in May for $5.7 million.
The house currently occupies 1,800 square feet. Expansion would mean a 5,000-square-foot structure, which is about 1,400 square feet more than what is allowed. Height of the existing structure is 23 feet, 4 inches, and the height of the addition is just over 15 feet. The limit for new construction is 25 feet. The applicant also has requested city assistance with $200,000 in permit fees associated with the project.
Nine residents voiced their concerns for the proposal, with many describing the situation as “threatening.”
“I don’t want to sound threatening. That is not the intention,” said Derek Skalko, of 1 Friday Design, who is working with the homeowner on the project. “If, in theory, we were to say, ‘You know what, let’s stop wasting our time. Let’s just knock the house down,’ we come back, and we go up 30 feet. That’s the reality. That’s what we’re up against.”
Martin Block, who neighbors the Lundy structure, said that as proposed, and based on his calculations as a physicist, he loses nearly 22 degrees of sunlight in the morning if the addition is approved.
Gail Block said she feels older West End homes — a Herbert Bayer and a Queen Anne Victorian in particular — are the “unloved step children” of Aspen.
“(The homes) are older, and (they) are devalued. (The homes) are devalued in all kinds of ways,” she said.
Commissioner John Whipple, who voted in support of moving the proposal to the council, said the reality is that if the home is not preserved in some manner, Block will lose double that amount of sunlight. Commissioner Sallie Golden agreed with Whipple, saying she can only imagine other scenarios. She called the current project the “most sympathetic.”
Commissioner Willis Pember, the dissenting vote, said standards seem to fall when “there’s a gun pointed at the head of the puppy dog.” He also asked the applicant to be more sympathetic to the concerns of neighbors.
While Commissioner Jay Maytin said he struggles with the necessity of a 12-foot, 9-inch garage proposed for the project, he called it a “true one-story addition” and “extremely respectful.”
“We want to protect the best properties,” Maytin said. “We don’t want to save the stuff that’s historic and modern and mediocre. We want to really focus on the buildings with high integrity and a history behind it. And that’s what this building is.”
He added that the impact to Block has been blown out of proportion and that heavy foliage between the two structures serves as a good buffer.
The council is tentatively scheduled to take the proposal up July 28 for first reading and Aug. 11 for second reading.