Editor’s note: This letter was directed to Aspen City Council and Mayor Torre.
First of all, thank you for your service during these trying times.
The subject today is why there are so few affordable restaurants in our town. Using basic economics, every time you increase fees to the developers like parking for construction vehicles, permit fees, safety fees, tree fees, park fees, employee housing mitigation fees, etc., the building owner (landlord) must pass this on to the tenants.
Just like the deal the city cut 10 years ago over the lower level of the newly constructed building next to Paradise Bakery whereby the landlord could only house a locally owned restaurant with a price-restricted menu, it is still vacant — for 10 years.
The recent article in the newspaper revealed that the tenant upgrades could cost $1 million (that is 1 million dollars). Of course a local would have trouble spending that with restricted menu prices. This is basic economics.
The city has just built a new City Hall for the alleged expense of $47 million, which is really insane for a town of this size. It also is obvious that the city collects way too much money.
My suggestion with all this hand wringing is two fold: Re-assess your fees and lower them. They are the highest building fees in America. Your are creating the problem of “too expensive.”
Get real bids and work with a restaurateur to design the lower level in that building and the city pays for it.
Then, there are no more excuses for a city-mandated restricted restaurant to remain vacant. Thank you for your time and consideration in this matter.