Boomerang returns to Aspen council on June 13 | AspenTimes.com

Boomerang returns to Aspen council on June 13

Andre SalvailThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN – Friday is the deadline for letters of support or opposition to a proposed employee-housing complex at the former Boomerang Lodge site in west Aspen.City officials plan to compile the pro and con statements for inclusion in the City Council’s information packet before the next regular meeting on June 13, the scheduled date of a public hearing. Comments may be sent to Jennifer Phelan, deputy director of the city’s Community Development Department, via email at jennifer.phelan@ci.aspen.co.us.The process to approve or reject developer Steve Stunda’s plans has been on hold for the last few months because of municipal elections and to allow time for an update of a parking study on the development’s potential effects on the neighborhood. In recent months, neighbors of the property, led by Aspenite Steve Goldenberg, have expressed concerns about parking and safety in the block bordered by West Hopkins Avenue and Fourth and Fifth streets.As Goldenberg is rallying his troops with a letter-writing campaign aimed at council members, Stunda is planning a community-outreach meeting to be held at 3 p.m. June 10 at the Pitkin County Library downstairs meeting room.E. Michael Hoffman, a local attorney representing Stunda, said the project recently was scaled back again – from 46 to 45 units. Last year, plans called for 54 units and a four-story building covering 54,000 square feet. In advance of city Planning and Zoning Commission meetings held earlier this year, architects reduced it to a three-story building of around 41,000 square feet.”We made some more changes in the design of the project to accommodate the neighbors, so now we are down to 45 units,” Hoffman said.The parking concept calls for 33 underground spaces, as well as 12 on Fourth Street and one in the alley, a plan already approved by the council in 2006 when Stunda was planning a lodge redevelopment. Stunda later was driven to transform the project from a lodging facility to employee housing because the downturn in the economy limited the ability to secure financing. The city’s creation of a financial-incentive program for affordable-housing projects also made the switch more attractive.The number of parking spaces planned for the complex has not changed. Hoffman said the parking-study update will show that the development will have little effect on the neighborhood. But he declined to offer details, saying he wanted to wait until the report is entered into the city record on Friday.”The report will show that there is ample parking for this project in the neighborhood,” Hoffman said.He said the report was handled by the same consultant who conducted a parking study a few years ago for the Jewish Community Center, which has plans for a new facility in the neighborhood but has yet to move forward on them.”The consultant has intimate knowledge of that neighborhood,” Hoffman said. “He used some of the data that he had from that study and then conducted new observations for this study.”Goldenberg said while parking continues to be a major concern – he believes the developer should provide at least 1.5 spaces per unit instead of one per unit, which is allowed by city code – his band of neighbors has other issues with the project, including the size and monolithic design of the building.”One large dorm-type building should be divided into three to five buildings, similar to the Little Ajax employee housing across the street on West Hopkins,” he said. “Affordable housing is fine as long as it’s in the context of Little Ajax.” The development to which Goldenberg refers has four buildings containing 14 units.Goldenberg also continues to press the issue of the addition of cars in the area putting a strain on the West Hopkins Avenue pedestrian throughway/bikeway. He said traffic limitations allow for a small-town feel where children can safely ride their bicycles and young mothers can freely take their babies on a stroll.”There will be tons of letters going to the city,” he said. “Maybe too many letters, because I resubmitted some letters that were originally sent to the P&Z.”The approval process was headed for a public hearing in March when the postponement to June 13 was announced.asalvail@aspentimes.com

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