2008 Newsmakers – Bob Daniel and John Sarpa: The developing duo
ASPEN ” There are plenty of developers around Aspen but there are few like Bob Daniel and John Sarpa, who if they get their way, will alter the town’s history forever.
The developing duo have made headlines all year by playing cornerstone roles in the Lift One Master Plan, which would completely overhaul the neighborhood where skiing in Aspen was born.
Daniel’s Lift One Lodge is planned to take the place of the venerable Holland House and the Skier’s Chalet and Steakhouse, set in the heart of the historic Lift One corridor. It is the site of Aspen’s first chairlift, which was built in 1947.
Across South Aspen Street (but still part of the same overall development plan) would be Sarpa’s Lodge at Aspen Mountain, which would be built where the old Mine Dump Apartments used to sit.
Amid both luxury condominium-hotels are a host of public amenities that attempt to create a “lights on” neighborhood, including a moderately-priced brew pub and restaurant, public ski lockers and a ski museum, to name a few.
What’s perhaps most notable about the development plan is that it was created by a 27-member citizen task force that Sarpa and Daniel participated in. And as developers who will compete for guests, the two men have actually joined their projects together in some ways.
Sarpa and Daniel conceded early on in the plan’s creation that they would have to pay for tens of millions of dollars worth of community benefits as a consolation for building large, luxury properties in what has been for decades a quiet neighborhood.
Facing the political reality that their projects would likely not win approval on their own (Sarpa’s 175,000-square-foot hotel was shot down in 2007, and Daniel withdrew his original application early in 2008), the two spent six months and hundreds of hours working with the task force.
Even though the proposed development’s size ” at nearly 300,000 square feet ” has generated criticism from the public at large, it’s been accepted by many as a solid plan for the future of Aspen Mountain’s western base area.
The two are no strangers to development in town ” Daniel was instrumental in getting the base of Aspen Highlands redeveloped and Sarpa led the effort to build the hotel now known as the St. Regis. And their political correctness, wit and charm have taken them a long way in public opinion, but it remains to be seen if it’s enough to win the blessing of elected officials.
Daniel and Sarpa’s plans are far from being rubber-stamped by the Aspen City Council, which is expected to vote Jan. 14 on the plan.
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Determining where the fish are in the river can be a challenge in itself, but during runoff the predictability factor tilts in your favor.