Aspen City Council holds off Gorsuch Haus decision
February 14, 2017
A throng of residents stuffed a City Council meeting room Monday over the fate of a proposed hotel that its supporters say would enhance the dilapidated Lift 1A side of Aspen Mountain, while detractors contended its size alone is reason enough for denial.
But the long-awaited public hearing for the 67-room Gorsuch Haus hotel proposal, which spawned a flurry of letters to Aspen's newspapers in recent weeks, resulted in no decisions made by Aspen City Council.
"It seems most people, … they realize something needs to happen up there, we need to activate that side of the mountain," Councilwoman Ann Mullins said.
The council, however, after listening to a presentation from the key players of developer Norway Island LLC as well as Aspen Skiing Co. and opinions from residents, elected to continue the public hearing until March 6.
The council's reason to continue the hearing was that while it generally wants the project to advance — that side of the mountain is Aspen's holy grail of ski racing but lacks modern amenities — it's not ready for prime time.
The council says the project is too big, from its maximum height of 48 feet to having a gross mass of more than 127,000 square feet, is out of step with mountain's lower west side.
Replacing the slow-moving Lift 1A, which was built in 1972 and runs roughly halfway up the mountain, also is one of the sticking points for the council and the project's critics.
Skico would replace it as part of an agreement with Norway, but critics argue that it should start at Dean Street and not at the Gorsuch Haus, which is uphill from Dean. Opponents also argue the lift area would be essentially "privatized" because it wouldn't be easily accessible to the public, though developers have vowed to use a shuttle system to bring skiers to the lift.
The city also is discussing bringing in a third-party expert to analyze ways to come up with better lift access.
The property also would need to be rezoned to accommodate the project.