Aspen boutique lodge proposal clears another hurdle

Rick Carroll
The Aspen Times
A boutique lodge proposal for the old Crystal Palace location on East Hyman Avenue will need the Historic Preservation Commission's final approval after City Council agreed Monday on its scale and size.
Jeremy Wallace |

Developer Mark Hunt’s proposed conversion of the Crystal Palace building into a luxury boutique lodge took another step toward fruition Monday.

Aspen City Council, by a 4-0 vote, upheld the Historic Preservation Commission’s March 9 decision approving conceptual major development and conceptual commercial design review of the proposal; in simpler terms, that means the mass and scale of the project.

The lodge in its current iteration would include 16 rooms on the upper floors and a 4,950-square-foot restaurant and kitchen on the ground-floor level. The lower level calls for a fitness center, rest rooms, locker areas and a guest lounge.

Fourteen of the guest rooms would be on the building’s second floor, averaging nearly 500 square feet, and two suites would be located on a proposed third floor, which would be set back from the lower level, that also would include an outdoor pool, cabana and service bar.

City Council could have remanded the approval back to the commission or continued to review the application itself.

Instead, the commission’s March 9 decision will stand, but the board still will be tasked with approving the project’s exterior materials, fenestration, landscape and lighting, among other features.

Hunt touted the project as “clearly contemporary with understated elegance.”

Hunt’s application seeks to renovate the two-level Crystal Palace building, constructed in 1891 and located at 300 E. Hyman Ave., and the one-story building next door at 312 E. Hyman Ave., which was constructed in 1970.

“The only areas of the existing building that date to the Victorian era are portions of the ground floor facing Hyman Avenue and Monarch Street, including the historic Owl Cigar mural,” wrote the city’s historic preservation officer, Amy Simon, in a memo to City Council. “Nonetheless, the property is landmark-designated and the Victorian architectural character that it represents, and memories of the beloved dinner theater that took place inside for decades are very important to Aspen.”

“I think you’ve done a good job of honoring the building’s history,” Mayor Steve Skadron said.

Even so, Skadron echoed Councilwoman Ann Mullins’ concerns about the building’s fenestration and how that will look.

Council members and Hunt agreed that the lodge would boost vitality on that side of downtown.

“It’s revitalizing this section of town that’s becoming more and more stagnant,” Councilman Art Daily said. “I think this is a nice revival.”