Lift 1A replacement tied to Gorsuch contract
July 7, 2016
The partners in the proposed Gorsuch Haus hotel said Wednesday their contract with Aspen Skiing Co. ensures timely construction of a replacement of Lift 1A.
Norway Island LLC's contract to purchase land from Aspen Skiing Co. requires Skico to start lift construction within 18 months of a request from Norway Island, according to Maureen Poschman, a representative of the development firm.
"We would give notice upon receiving conceptual approval" for the hotel from the Aspen City Council, Poschman said.
The disclosure came after concerns were raised Tuesday night at an Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission meeting about timely construction of the chairlift. Norway Island had asked in its application for an extended period of vesting of its rights, assuming the project is approved. Colorado law requires a minimum of three years of vesting rights. Norway Island asked for 10 years in its application.
Skico selects quad chair
One member of the public said during the planning commission hearing that the requested extension concerned him about the replacement of the chairlift. Cliff Smythe asked what would trigger replacement of the lift if Norway Island gets approval but cannot immediately get financing.
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There was no answer at the meeting, but Poschman said Wednesday the Gorsuch Haus team will return to the planning commission at the next scheduled hearing July 19 "with a significantly reduced number of years for vesting rights."
Skico informed the Gorsuch Haus team earlier this year that when the time comes, it will build a high-speed detachable, four-person chairlift to replace Lift 1A, a fixed-grip double chair constructed in 1975, according to Poschman.
Skico received approvals from the U.S. Forest Service in December 2015 to replace the lift. The approval granted flexibility for Skico to build a chairlift, gondola or a combination called a telemix.
Skico officials have since said they have settled on a chairlift rather than a gondola in planning meetings with the Gorsuch team, Poschman said.
The decision required the designers of the Gorsuch Haus to tweak the plan. "The main differences would be the nature of the loading between the lift and the gondola. Since the gondola has the skis removed the amount of loading space is less than a lift which has mazing along the side," Poschman said in an email.
The Forest Service approval authorizes the lift to operate at a capacity of 1,200 skiers per hour. It will be 3,600 feet in length and have a vertical gain of about 1,390 feet.
62 lodge units proposed
Norway Island wants to build 62 lodge units, six free-market residences and one affordable-housing unit. There also would be commercial space and skier services ranging from ticket offices to a ski patrol locker room. The building would be terraced up the mountain with 67,781 square feet above ground.
Access to the chairlift remains under scrutiny. The Gorsuch Haus proposal includes a cul-de-sac for skier drop-off on the north side of the property. A pedestrian walkway would bend around the northern side of the hotel before accessing a plaza where the chairlift is located. The distance from the drop-off to the chairlift is about 225 feet.
Poschman said the design of the hotel will keep the corridor open for the extension of the chairlift. It would require adjustments to the site plan of the Lift One Lodge, which has approvals for a 22-unit condominium project where the Skier's Chalet is located.
"The lift could always drop lower should anything change in the future," Poschman said. However, the Gorsuch Haus partners don't want to hold up planning to see if that extension is possible.
Skico: We're watching
Gorsuch Haus' proposal calls for a shuttle to regularly circulate between Rubey Park and the hotel, with stops in between, to provide access to the chairlift. Gorsuch Haus would contribute to the cost of the shuttle, Poschman said, but details must be worked out with the city of Aspen.
Several audience members who spoke at Tuesday's meeting said they want a platter lift or other viable "people mover" to provide access from Dean Street to the bottom terminal of the lift.
Skico. officials declined a request for an interview and released a statement instead. It read, "We are committed to building a new lift once a project at Lift 1A is approved. Currently that lift is a detachable quad.
"Regarding ski area operations below the ski area boundary, we need to see how the final plan evolves for both the Gorsuch Haus and the Lift 1 Lodge. Undertaking operations outside our boundaries raises many challenges," the statement read.