Boomerang Lodge in Aspen revives redevelopment plans
Ryan Summerlin April 5, 2014
A casualty of the Great Recession, the Boomerang Lodge has sat dormant since 2007, when part of the building was demolished to make way for a redevelopment project approved a year earlier.
On Monday, owners of the 500 W. Hopkins Ave. property submitted an amended application that partner Steve Stunda said is an enhancement of vested rights set to expire in 2015. The new plan calls for 48 lodge units at an average size of 218 square feet, a 10 percent reduction in overall floor area and a slight reduction in maximum height.
The new 40,549-square-foot lodge — a reduction from the approved 44,915-square-foot structure — would include 16 free-market residential units, five affordable-housing units and a height reduction from 39 feet to 38.5 feet. The hotel would offer minimal amenities and reduced hours for on-site staffing, as it aims for economy-priced lodging.
“Brand-new inventory priced, even in season, at $250 a night — you just don’t find that type of inventory in this town,” said Stunda, who is backing the project with majority partner Alex Brown Realty, of Baltimore. “I think it’s precisely what we’ve been told the city is seeking.”
City officials currently are writing a lodge-incentive program, which aims to upgrade and expand Aspen’s hot-bed base. Stunda, an Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority board member, said any city subsidy or fee waivers requested will be based largely on the offerings included in the city’s new program.
The proposed 16 free-market condominiums are a mix of two- and three-bedroom units with an average size of 1,444 square feet, capped at 1,661 square feet. Stunda called those units the economic engine for the project, saying they are necessary to offset entry costs.
In 2006, approved plans called for 47 new lodge units, five free-market units and two affordable-housing units. By 2007, the “economic malaise had hit, and nothing happened,” Stunda said. “There was really nobody in the lending arena that would make a loan. We were sort of stuck in the mud.”
The project remained stuck until 2011, when the Aspen City Council approved plans to build an affordable-housing complex at the site. But the 40-unit project was halted when a group of neighbors filed a lawsuit seeking reversal on the council’s decision. Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols ruled against the neighbors, and by early 2014, the two parties had come to an agreement to end litigation.