Redevelopment plan for Hotel Jerome advances to council
December 12, 2014
The Aspen City Council will soon review the Hotel Jerome's redevelopment application as the Historic Preservation Commission approved the project with a few recommendations Wednesday.
Owners at 330 E. Main St. have proposed a fourth-story addition to the hotel's three-story west wing, while adding a new three-story structure behind the historic Aspen Times storefront — a project that would net the 93-room hotel an additional 10 lodge units.
The applicant is requesting four variances, one being a height request for a 54-foot-tall west wing addition. The highest point of the hotel is currently 54 feet, 6 inches, while the commercial core zone district allows for 40 feet. Another variance request involves the construction of two 1,970-square-foot lodge units, which are beyond the 1,500-square-foot allowance.
Another variance request is the plan to increase the average unit size from 569 square feet to 619 square feet, when code calls for units smaller than 500 square feet. The applicant's fourth variance request involves floor-to-floor heights that are between 6 inches and 18 inches smaller than what is required.
During the public comment portion of the meeting, resident Scott Davidson called the project "tasteful," adding that hotel owners have a right to renew inventory in order to stay competitive.
"Let's please help them to continue to maintain the most important building, from a community standpoint, in Aspen," he said.
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Representing himself and multiple neighbors who have concerns, resident Bill Baringer said the project increases the building's shadow and creates safety issues at a busy Bleeker Street intersection. He encouraged further study and consideration for larger setbacks.
At ground level on 310 E. Main St., where the old Aspen Times building is located, a small retail space is proposed to face the sidewalk, while the hotel's fitness amenities would be relocated to that floor. The second and third stories would each contain a pair of two-bedroom lodge suites and a pair of one-bedroom lodge suites. By relocating the hotel's existing fitness area onto The Aspen Times lot, it frees up room for a 1,000-square-foot, one-bedroom lodge unit.
Plans for a partial, fourth-story addition to the hotel's three-story "west wing" would give way to two 1,900-square-foot three-bedroom suites, each with access to its own lockout bedroom, and three 800-square-foot one-bedroom units.
Chicago-based Jerome Property LLC purchased the hotel in 2007 for $52.2 million. Investors from 310 East Main Street Ventures, in partnership with the Hotel Jerome, took ownership of the historic Times building for $3.2 million in August 2012. Consultant Vann Associates and architectural firm Rowland+Broughton are working with the properties owners on the project.
With four members present, the Historic Preservation Commission conducted a consolidated review. The commission suggested the applicant re-study setbacks on the north end of the structure; further analyze the relationship between The Aspen Times structure and the existing hotel; and consider restoring historic Aspen Times signage that can be found on the side of the building.
Though he had some concern about the impact of the west wing addition, board member Willis Pember said he wants to see success with one of Aspen's "top 2" iconic structures. Jim De Francia said he takes no issue with the height request as the structure is already taller than what is proposed. John Whipple said that if there's one building in town that deserves a height variance, it's the Hotel Jerome. Finally, Patrick Sagal said he could go either way on height, arguing that plans look good as designed.