ACRA eyeing Main Street site for offices
April 22, 2003
An office building on the corner of Main and Galena streets is being eyed as a future home of the Aspen Chamber Resort Association and visitor center.Aspen’s Civic Center Master Plan advisory committee wants to turn the one-story brick building directly across Main Street from the Texaco station into a hub for visitors. The building’s owner, Aspen resident Lowell Meyer, has met with the committee to consider the possibility.Chris Bendon, long-range planner for the city, said the advisory group has been struggling with the question of the best location for the visitor center. ACRA’s offices, alongside Rio Grande Park, should be in a more central location to help visitors orient themselves, the group decided.When the idea for Meyer’s property came up, the group called him.”He didn’t immediately hang up on us,” Bendon said. “He was interested in the idea, he’s a local, and he’d like to participate in a project with local relevance.”The Civic Center Master Plan was started in June 2000, with the goal of developing a vision for the location of government services, emergency services, ACRA and the nonprofit arts organizations. The master plan’s Phase One Report from May 2001 encourages mixed-use projects and public/private partnerships to achieve this vision.”The key with a visitor center is having a place where visitors can find it,” Bendon said. “ACRA has struggled with having a visitor center [by the park]. This would be a location on Main Street, and that’s more obvious for the tourists.”All ACRA offices would be relocated to the site with this plan, as would central reservation agency Stay Aspen Snowmass. Bendon said it would be a more efficient layout than the chamber currently has.Right now there is office space in the building, for businesses like Hines construction and Broadband West Telecom. Bendon said the preliminary proposal also includes office space for businesses.The Aspen City Council has asked city staff to begin preliminary discussions with Meyer about this public/private partnership, including the possibility of a long-term lease for ACRA. Parking for visitors and the Aspen Police and Pitkin County Sheriff’s Office – located just across Galena Street from the building – is also under consideration for the project.Meyer, who could not be reached for comment, has hired Bill Poss and Associates Architecture & Planning to explore the project. Since the site is within a historic district, the Historic Preservation Commission has scheduled a work session on Wednesday to consider a three-story building on the site.The initial design work includes space for a visitors center, ACRA offices, other offices and two floors of housing, some of which would be affordable.