Aspen Chamber Resort Association board endorses Sky Hotel plans
October 2, 2014
Plans to demolish the 91-room Sky Hotel and replace it with a 45-foot-tall, 100-room hotel gained support from the Aspen Chamber Resort Association's board of directors Tuesday.
Representing owner Northridge Capital, a Washington, D.C., commercial asset firm that has owned the hotel since 2001, John Sarpa called the redevelopment effort an aim at mid-priced lodging, offering rooms from $300 to $500 a night.
Plans include five onsite affordable-housing units, eight free-market residential units, three fractional-ownership units and a rooftop swimming pool for the new 95,643-square-foot lodge proposed at 709 E. Durant Ave. Sarpa said the most significant variance request is for height. The city measures the new building at 45 feet, and the highest point on the sloping roof is 52 feet.
The next hearing on the project is scheduled for Oct. 7 before the Planning and Zoning Commission.
In 2005, Northridge Capital walked away from a previous redevelopment application that would have seen the 42,000-square-foot hotel torn down and replaced with a 100,000-square-foot structure, offering the same number of rooms, 10 free-market units and three affordable-housing units. The project was abandoned after a split vote by the Planning and Zoning Commission.
Sarpa said there is no question that if the proposal makes it to the Aspen City Council, Mayor Steve Skadron, an Aspen Chamber Resort Association board member who recused himself during Tuesday's discussion, will ask what the options are if the plan isn't approved. Answering the hypothetical, Sarpa said the owner will know the redevelopment project is not viable.
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"I don't own the place, but I happen to know the owners pretty well," Sarpa said. "And I know the operators (Kimpton Hotels) pretty well. They've tried a lot of things to try to make this work. If this effort, in this town, doesn't work, they of course are going to know we can't do this. For whatever reason, not happening. Of course, they then sell."
"The community really needs this project," Aspen Skiing Co. senior vice president and board member Dave Perry said after Sarpa's presentation at the Aspen Square Hotel. "I think the work you've done and the taste you're bringing to it and trying to do your best to make a viable project but understanding the issues of mass and scale, which always come up — I think you've struck a nice balance there. … I think our company's going to support this."
R.J. Gallagher, who is handling outreach for the project, said they are looking at a 20-month construction period if approved.
"Obviously, this will end up with a robust civic discussion at some point," said Donnie Lee, general manager of the Gant and a chamber board member.
The project's development team includes architectural firm Rowland+Broughton, planning consultant Vann Associates and landscaper Bluegreen.