City to discuss plans for a new visitors’ center | AspenTimes.com

City to discuss plans for a new visitors’ center

Aspen Times Staff Report

A task force that is studying a proposal for a new visitors’ center at Main and Galena will meet with the City Council at a work session Tuesday.

The Visitor Center COWOP Task Force was assembled last month after the City Council found the project eligible for the COWOP process, which was established in 2000 to review projects that include substantial public benefits.

The proposal for a new visitors’ center grew out of the city’s ongoing Civic Center Master Plan process, which is examining the potential for expanding or relocating a range of civic and nonprofit organizations.

A new center is being eyed for a site next to US Bank across from the courthouse. The land is owned by Lowell Meyer.

The task force, made up of neighbors, citizens, representatives of various city agencies and boards, and Meyer, has met three times. The work session with the council was scheduled to obtain feedback on the progress thus far.

“So far we have found no fatal flaws,” said city planner Chris Bendon. “We have addressed concerns about parking, traffic circulation, protecting the visual integrity of the courthouse and will continue to explore the financial aspect of making this project work for all parties involved.”

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The Aspen Chamber Resort Association currently operates the city’s main visitors’ center next to the ACRA offices at Rio Grande Place. The current center consists of a lobby area, which is approximately 300 square feet in size. The center does not have an area set aside for 24-hour access, and does not provide restrooms – a common amenity for visitors’ centers in resort towns, a city press release states.

The task force unanimously agreed that the current visitors’ center is inadequate to serve the city’s tourism needs, and should be relocated to a more visible area.

The group has been reviewing a proposal for a new center that would be approximately 1,000 square feet, would include an area set aside for 24-hour access and restrooms. The project would consist partly of a new structure, but would also include a renovation and addition to the existing one-story brick building next to the bank.

Although the COWOP process allows a project to be designed outside the limitations of the city land-use code, including height restrictions, property owner Lowell Meyer has made a firm commitment to comply with Aspen’s height restrictions, the release says.

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