Aspen Art Museum pulls out of master planning process |

Aspen Art Museum pulls out of master planning process

John ColsonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN The Aspen Art Museum, sensing that it has more public support than other parts of the troubled ZG Master Plan, announced Tuesday that it is pulling out of the master planning process and moving ahead on its own with plans to relocate.The museums withdrawal from the process leaves the city of Aspen, Pitkin County, the Pitkin County Library and the Aspen Chamber Resort Association still working to figure out how to redesign and rebuild a vast amount of publicly owned space in the heart of Aspen.Museum director Heidi Zuckerman Jacobson said in a letter that the Aspen Art Museum is pleased to have been a part of the ZG Master Planning process for the last 18 months, and is happy with the conclusion, as part of that process, that the best place for a new museum would be at the site of the former Aspen Youth Center, which is owned by the city.The museum has been located for decades at another city-owned property, a former hydroelectric power plant on the banks of the Roaring Fork River, next to the North Mill Street bridge. The proposed new site is located between the Pitkin County Library and the Pitkin County jail, at the north end of Galena Street.Jacobson wrote that the museums role in first position for use of that site is bolstered by its financial ability to move ahead on its own. Reached in New York City by telephone, she said the museum has $28.5 million in pledges toward the relocation project.By withdrawing from the ZG Master Plan it is our intention to … move forward with an application for the former Youth Center site that can be evaluated on its own merits, she wrote in the letter, which was read aloud to the citys Planning and Zoning Commission at a meeting on Tuesday.Speaking from New York, Jacobson said the museums board had not been planning this move until a P&Z meeting earlier this year at which members of the public started chanting, free the museum.It seems like there was a growing consensus of support for the Aspen Art Museum part of the process, she explained.Less clear, she maintained, is public support for other aspects of the ZG plan. For example, there is doubt about public sentiments about whether the county should build 64,000 square feet of new office space on what is known as the Zupancis property and the site of the existing Courthouse Plaza building.Jacobson said the city has not given any formal sign that it is ready to let go of the old youth center building.We wont know until we try, she said.She said the museum board will proposed that the proposed change of use be put before the voters.If the museum is able to take over the old youth center site and build a new facility, Jacobson said, it will bode well for the master plan overall because the museum always has been considered the anchor of the master plan. She noted that the plan was conceived as a 20-year process, and never meant to be completed all at once.The museum board has engaged Japanese architect Shigeru Ban to design a new building for the proposed site, and Jacobson said his designs will be shown to the public before a vote is

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