Group forms to oppose Four Seasons in Aspen
September 28, 2016
A movement is afoot to ensure a potential Four Seasons project in Aspen doesn't make it out of the fall.
The upstart group is called Look After Aspen and formed Sept. 12 with the Colorado Secretary of State. Members include residents of West Hopkins Avenue, where the project is proposed, and other community members. Additionally, a closed group on Facebook, Aspen Against the Four Seasons Hotel, had 109 members as of Tuesday.
"The new proposed Four Seasons at 705 W. Hopkins Ave. would dramatically alter our neighborhood and bring increased traffic to this residential area," says the groups website. "Despite claims about community outreach in articles from earlier this year, none of the adjacent neighbors have been engaged directly by the Four Seasons developers. Let's Look After Aspen and make sure we have a say in the development of our community."
The group's formation comes ahead of an Oct. 4 hearing before the Planning and Zoning Commission, which will review an application to fold the three plats of property at 705 W. Hopkins Ave. into the city of Aspen. That property currently is part of Pitkin County and zoned residential.
Annexing the property would give the applicants a clean slate to rezone the property with the city.
Applicants Starford Investments LLC, Westchester Investments Inc. and Shadow Mountain Corp. want to subdivide the three properties at the location and raze the exiting residential buildings on the site.
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The 6.6-acre property is owned by Florida-based Cisneros Real Estate, whose representatives have said their preference is to build a Four Seasons resort hotel at the site.
The Cisneros group declined to comment about the new organization in opposition.
An email that began circulating last week called on residents to join Look After Aspen. Included on some of the emails were Aspen Mayor Steve Skadron and Adam Frisch and Bert Myrin, who both sit on the City Council.
The annexation process is scheduled to go before the City Council on Oct. 10. Council members are precluded from speaking on pending applications.
Frisch weighed in on the email string, excluding Myrin and Skadron from the conversation, but did not offer his opinion on the merits of the proposal. He did, however, say the timing is not right for a major annexation to go before the City Council, particularly when the city is trying to align its land-use code with the Aspen Area Community Plan during a freeze on land-use applications for commercial districts.
"I want to be very careful in commenting on any land-use project/application that is about to enter or is currently in the City's land-use process," Frisch wrote. "Having said that, I want to be very clear, I have absolutely no interest in wasting City Council time, and just as important staff's very valuable time — especially in the midst of our moratorium — in having any further discussions about annexing any piece of property into the city, and I do not see my view changing for some time. I have a bit of my hands tied in making more specific comments, but hopefully the intent of this will come across clear enough. It remains the view from the city that any annexation decision is purely discretionary and I have been wanting to use my full discretion as soon as legally allowed."
City Clerk Linda Manning said Tuesday that the Oct. 10 annexation hearing before City Council will go on as scheduled.
"It's going to P&Z (on Oct. 4) and it's going to council on the 10th with an annexation ordinance," she said.
The City Council deemed the property eligible for annexation in September 2015. That decision had no bearing on council members' feeling about the project's merits. The vote was 3-1, with Bert Myrin in dissent. Councilman Art Daily recused himself because he is an attorney with Holland & Hart, which represents Cisneros Real Estate.
"I also want to be clear any support to date from me regarding prior annexations steps that have been taken due to some very technical steps that we were legally bound to honor — none of the support from me has been based on any assumed project landing on that annexation site," Frisch's email said.
Cisneros envisions a resort hotel with a spa, pool, restaurant and four buildings with 118 lodging units, 22 fractional-ownership residents, four free-market residences and dormitory-style affordable housing for as many as 80 tenants, according to its land-use application.
The cumulative floor area for the Four Seasons' lodge, free-market units, fractional units, restaurant and spa would encompass 181,974 square feet. The affordable-housing component's floor area would span 24,018 square feet. The entire project would span 205,992 square feet.
Cisneros Real Estate currently is developing a Four Seasons in the Dominican Republic.