ACRA supports the lodge |

ACRA supports the lodge

(Editor’s note: The following is an abridged version of a letter originally addressed to “Honorable Mayor Ireland and Aspen City Council.” It was editted due to space constraints.)Dear Editor:As the business organization that represents 800 plus local businesses, we hope you will consider our recommendation on this important topic.On July 31 the Aspen Chamber Resort Association Board of Directors approved a resolution of support for the Lodge at Aspen Mountain. This support is based on the following reasons listed below.Need for high-quality lodge rooms: We believe the addition of 80 new hotel rooms, which will be deed restricted for 99 years, is a benefit to our visiting guests and the business community. According to Stay Aspen/Snowmass and M-TRIP, 51 out of 52 weeks in 2006 (every week of that year except during the Winter X-Games), the average weekly occupancies of Aspen’s most luxurious properties exceeded those of every other property in Aspen combined.Occupancy trends: Taking into account the overall average percentage of units occupied from Jan 1, 2005 through Dec 31, 2006, the average overall percentage occupancy for the luxury properties during that time frame was 68.4 percent, while the average percent occupancy for the other properties was 50.5 percent. Tax income from guests staying at this type of lodging make a substantial contribution to Aspen’s public services and quality of life.Size and impact: The developer has scaled the project back significantly over the course of protracted deliberations. It will offer a significant improvement to the Lift 1A area and the Aspen Street streetscape. Neighboring condominium associations have all expressed support for this necessary redevelopment. Construction impacts can be managed with appropriate planning – they represent a necessary part of the renewal of our community.Environmental: The project exceeds current city energy codes and would be an appropriate project to implement the objectives of the Canary Initiative.Construction Management: Their construction management plan also exceeds many of the current city requirements, particularly where they volunteer to require the labor force to park at the Brush Creek intercept lot and take mass transit into the City.Affordable housing: The project is providing more than double the amount of required on site affordable housing. Some percentage of employees will already be living in the valley and will not need housing.Community benefits: The developer has provided a long list of benefits including additional parking, energy conservation, a new chair lift, more than required affordable housing, and a snowmelt system on South Aspen Street.If the City Council denies the proposal, developers will revert to a previous approval and build 14 townhomes in its place. Virtually nobody wants to see more vacant, high-end town homes at the base of our flagship ski mountain. Further delaying the project approval only prevents the revitalization of Aspen Street from moving forward, while incurring unnecessary expense for the developer and taxpayers alike.We urge you to give this project your approval as it is within the current city code and exceptional in nature.Debbie BraunPresident, Aspen Chamber Resort Associationand the ACRA board of directors