Asbestos new wrinkle in remodel of Aspen City Market |

Asbestos new wrinkle in remodel of Aspen City Market

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Rustin Gudim The Aspen Times

ASPEN – The ongoing remodeling of City Market in Aspen is expected to involve nighttime work to deal with asbestos in the building, according to the city engineer’s office.

The presence of asbestos is not uncommon in buildings of a certain age. When it was discovered in the supermarket’s walls during a recent shutdown of the store for construction, it was handled according to the contractor’s recommendations, according to Kelli McGannon, the grocery chain’s director of public affairs in Denver. Dealing with the asbestos delayed the planned reopening of the store by a couple of days, she said.

More asbestos in the building has been identified, but it is not exposed, McGannon said.

“At this time, it is not a health risk,” she said.

The store is committed to the health and safety of its employees and customers, McGannon said, and will close the store again if necessary during the course of a remodeling project that is expected to continue until mid-June.

Aspen’s City Market, owned by The Kroger Co., is currently open for business, but construction consumes part of the parking lot in front of the store, and customers access the grocery from a makeshift entrance off the alleyway next to the building. Inside, shoppers wander the aisles on a floor stripped to the concrete. The ceiling has also been removed, exposing the building’s structure and wiring. When the remodeling is complete, the updated store will feature a full bakery and deli, and an expanded section for perishable foods.

City engineering and building officials were approached Friday with a request to conduct nighttime work in the store related to asbestos removal or abatement, according to Trish Aragon, city engineer.

The city currently limits hours of construction to between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m. on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays, with no construction permitted on Sundays.

Because the asbestos work poses a health and safety issue, Aragon said she’s open to allowing nighttime work. The contractor must first submit a formal plan to her office, she said.

Aragon said she was told the night work was expected to begin in early January and take six to eight weeks.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration in Denver has also been notified of the asbestos at the store and has assigned a compliance officer to the case, said an agency spokesperson.

Asbestos poses no danger unless its fibers are dislodged and inhaled. It has been linked to respiratory diseases, including lung cancer, according to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Abatement work involves proper removal and disposal of the material, or encapsulating it, and contractors dealing with it must be certified by the state.

In 2008, the presence of asbestos delayed demolition of the old Aspen Middle School and added more than $1 million to the project’s cost. More recently, construction crews removed asbestos from the former Cortina Lodge on Main Street, which is now used as housing by the Hotel Jerome and is currently undergoing extensive renovation.

The city of Aspen has dealt twice with asbestos removal in its Yellow Brick Building.