Public gets preview of Ajax base plans | AspenTimes.com

Public gets preview of Ajax base plans

Carolyn SackariasonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN The public got an up-close look Tuesday at the latest plans to redevelop the base of Aspen Mountains west side.About 40 people showed up at an open house in City Hall, where the Lift One neighborhood master plan was the center of attention.Several Lift One task force members were on hand to update citizens on the status of their work, which commenced in April. To date, the group of 27 people has agreed on several sketch plans that include an escalator or pedestrian mover that leads to the base of the 1A chairlift; an auto-free road centered in the middle of two envisioned lodging developments; and a vehicle road that loops through the area, starting on Garmich Street, leading to Juan Street and then cutting through the development.Those sketches were on display at the open house, as was evidence of the groups progress over the past several months.The different options which include a traditional South Aspen Street leading to the base of the ski area, a loop road, a green thoroughfare and an escalator leading to Lift 1A will be presented as 3-D models to the task force Thursday during its regular meeting. From 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Hines Room at Aspen Meadows, the group will discuss how the different options look in terms of massing, scale and impact on the neighborhood. The meeting is open to the public.Several questions from citizens were fielded by Aspen Community Development Director Chris Bendon during Tuesdays session. One resident who lives on South Aspen Street, behind Main Street Bakery & Cafe, said shes concerned about an already congested road becoming worse with new development at the base. She asked task force members to keep that dilemma in mind while proceeding with their plans.Another citizen asked who would pay for the infrastructure related to the development. Bendon said it would either be borne by developers, landowners or through the formation of a metro district. Bendon added the costs would not be shouldered by taxpayers.The task force convened after it was apparent that two land-use applications for large lodging properties on the 8-acre area would likely get voted down by the Aspen City Council without some sort of smart-growth plan in place.The group is the driving force in creating a comprehensive development program for the ski areas base, where only 3 percent of visitors currently access the slopes via Lift 1A. The rest use the Silver Queen Gondola to get up the mountain.The end result will be a blueprint for what kind of lodging, affordable housing, community and skier amenities, and other development aspects will exist in the historic Lift One neighborhood the original portal to Aspen Mountain.One of the last areas in town to be redeveloped, it involves four major landowners, including the Aspen Skiing Co., the city of Aspen and Centurion Partners, which owns the property where the Mine Dump Apartments used to be on South Aspen Street. Last fall, Centurions project was shot down by the Aspen City Council. The proposed Lodge at Aspen Mountain was to be a large hotel and fractional condo property. Centurion does have approval to build 17 townhomes on the site, but has held off on that option while its representative, John Sarpa, participates in the master-plan process.Bendon told attendees at the open house that, after four years in the land-use application process, Centurion and its investors are patiently waiting to develop their property.They will need to pull the trigger soon, Bendon said. Their financiers cant wait around forever.The task force is expected to make a recommendation by the end of September. Its hoped the task forces recommendation will serve as the land-use application that will be reviewed and voted on by the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission, the Historic Preservation Commission and the City Council.Across the street from Centurions property, David Wilhelm, Jim Light and Jim Chaffin own the land where the defunct Holland House and Skiers Chalet lodges are located.Those developers, represented by Bob Daniel, were proposing the 114,000-square-foot Lift One Lodge below Lift 1A. That application has since been pulled while the task force does its work.csack@aspentimes.com

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