Aspen City Council blesses new Base Lodge
Base Lodge will have 38 or 39 guest rooms instead of the originally envisioned 42 to 44, and visitors will be required to use the underground parking garage for their vehicles when space is available.
Those were part of the conditions Aspen City Council required for its approval of developer Mark Hunt’s lodge at its meeting Monday. Base Lodge would be built on 730 E. Cooper Ave., currently home to the ramshackle Buckhorn Arms Building, which will be torn down to make way for the project.
Base Lodge will be a significantly different iteration than the one City Council first approved in February 2015, which was granted with land-use variations and off-site parking for 15 vehicles.
But because of a clerical error by a planner on Hunt’s project team, the application had to be reintroduced last week for a first reading in the council’s approval process.
This time around, Hunt’s entire project was in compliance with the land-use code. Had it not been, it would have been referred to the Aspen electorate because of Referendum 1, which voters passed last May. Referendum 1 forces variance-seeking commercial projects to obtain the electorate’s approval. Those variances include height, mass, parking and affordable housing.
At Monday’s second and final reading, Councilman Bert Myrin said he wasn’t comfortable with a city arrangement with Aspen hotels in which they can pay $3 for a week of free parking for their guests in the residential areas.
Myrin said Base Lodge guests could use that perk instead of paying upward of $30 a night in the valet-parking garage, which would be serviced with a car elevator, and by doing so, would take away coveted parking spaces.
At the suggestion of Community Development Department Director Jessica Garrow, the council and Hunt agreed to have a requirement that Base Lodge guests must use the parking garage unless its 23 to 24 spaces are filled.
“When that garage is filled up, they are free to use residential,” Garrow said.
Hunt also agreed to not sell or rent the parking spots to nonusers of Base Lodge.
Restrooms had been eyed for the rooftop level, but they are being moved to the third floor because of space concerns, said Dwayne Romero, a consultant to Hunt. Those bathrooms will cut into space for guest rooms, meaning the lodge will now have 38 to 39 rooms.
Plans also call for the rooms being about 200 square feet, but Hunt will be allowed to increase that size by as much as 10 percent.
The rooftop is considered a public amenity, meaning it will be available for use to nonguests of the lodge. A ground-level courtyard also will be available to the public.
Base Lodge’s heights will range from 36 feet, 6 inches to 38 feet, which are in compliance with lodge zoning. The elevator on the rooftop area will top 40 feet, which is allowable under city code.
Hunt said Base Lodge, which is intended for guests on a limited budget, will satisfy “an important niche in the market.”
The council approved the project 4-0. Councilwoman Ann Mullins was absent from the meeting.
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