A grand plan for Lift 1A? | AspenTimes.com

A grand plan for Lift 1A?

ASPEN ” Local business leaders agreed Tuesday to consider Mayor Mick Ireland’s request that they facilitate a master plan process for undeveloped land at the base of Aspen Mountain.

Ireland is pushing for a master plan that would map out what the base of Aspen Mountain’s west side would look like when new development happens there.

But because there is a pending development application by Jim Chaffin, Jim Light and David Wilhelm, Ireland isn’t allowed to discuss the future of the property with Bob Daniel, who is representing the developers.

The proposed Lift One Lodge is due to be reviewed by the City Council early next year. That development includes a 114,00-square-foot lodge with 32 suites containing a total of 97 separate rental rooms. The lodge would be where the Holland House currently sits, as well as three parcels the Aspen Skiing Co. owns around the base of Lift 1A.

Ireland wants the Aspen Chamber Resort Association to help facilitate those discussions with Daniel, as well the other property owners in the area.

“I’m here to suggest that although I can’t communicate with these guys, you can,” Ireland told the ACRA board.

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The ACRA board of directors voted to have the matter evaluated by its public affairs and executive committees, and report back to the board at its next meeting about whether the organization should take on such a monumental task. ACRA also will poll its 800-plus members to see if it’s a good idea.

It’s uncharted territory for ACRA, which finds itself in a position to kick-start a process that could ultimately map out what some of the most valuable land in Aspen should look like.

Ireland and some of his colleagues on the City Council realized during the review process of the Lodge at Aspen Mountain ” a proposed hotel with fractional-ownership condos on South Aspen Street ” that a master plan would better serve the entire base area. The council shot down the proposal by the landowner, Centurion Partners, last month.

A master plan would be possible only if the property owners want to work as partners with the city.

“It has to be voluntary and cooperative,” Ireland said. “If they say they aren’t going to do this, we won’t do it.”

Skico representatives have said they are open to the idea. But it’s really up to Daniel and Centurion principal John Sarpa to decide if they want to participate.

Sarpa, who already has approval to build 17 townhomes where the hotel would have been, is still weighing his options. Centurion could revamp its plan and resubmit a different proposal, be part of a master planning process or just build the free-market residential component.

It’s more complicated for the Chaffin, Light and Wilhelm team since they have poured tens of millions of dollars into land investments and planning. Their project has won the approval of the Planning and Zoning Commission, and the Historic Preservation Commission.

The danger of not doing a master plan is not knowing what the outcome would be for Lift One Lodge ” if the council would approve it as proposed.

A sticking point for Ireland is that in order for the Lift One Lodge to be built, chair lift 1A has to move 125 feet farther uphill.

The other danger of not master planning the area is that the end result could be townhomes instead of hotel rooms, vacant land or a lift farther uphill, Ireland said.

During the Lodge at Aspen Mountain review, Ireland said the feedback he and his fellow council members received from the public was that lodging was important in that area and so was keeping a chair lift in the same location, if not bringing it even farther down the hill.

A master plan could address all of those elements, plus more, including affordable housing on site and a proposed a ski museum, Ireland said.

City-owned streets could be narrowed, land could be swapped and parcels could be reconfigured.

“This is new and that’s why it’s so exciting and frightening at the same time,” Ireland said.

Carolyn Sackariason’s e-mail address is csack@aspentimes.com.

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