Aspen City Council favors Galena option in civic relocation discussion
Aspen City Council members favored the Galena Plaza option in a Tuesday evening work session as part of their effort to progress the city of Aspen’s Civic Space Relocation Project into schematic design and ongoing public process.
City staff requested that the City Council select one of the final two location options for the project, the Armory or Galena Plaza, according to a memo from Capital Asset Manager Jack Wheeler, Capital Asset Project Manager Jeff Pendarvis and Public Works Director Scott Miller.
While Council did not come to a final agreement, a 3-2 consensus favoring the Galena option over the Armory option is in line with staff’s recommended location. The Armory option isn’t off the table as of Tuesday’s meeting, but the council, staff and public input indicate the Galena option is the front-runner.
“The solution that staff has determined meets our needs in the best way, delivering the most core values, with the least risk and the most efficiencies for public benefit is the Galena option,” the memo said.
The Galena option would house a majority of the city’s departments under one roof in a new building in Galena Plaza above the Aspen Chamber Resort Association and the parking garage. The Police Department, which currently uses the basement of the Pitkin County Courthouse along with its administrative offices at Obermeyer Place, would be relocated to 540 E. Main St., where as many as 12 units of employee housing potentially also would be built.
The preliminary projected cost is $46 million and calls for 51,900 square feet of new office space along with a new 14,900-square-foot Police Department.
Staff shared the results of their public outreach Tuesday evening, which assessed the interests of the stakeholder groups along with the general public.
The stakeholders “radically preferred Galena,” and while public opinion was a bit more mixed, according to Design Workshop Architect Richard Shaw, “on the whole, Galena is most prominent in the attitudes of the public.”
Of the many factors considered in choosing the right location for this project, public feedback indicated that the city appreciated the “environmental responsibility” benefits associated with the Galena option, Wheeler said.
“Sustainability, energy, air quality, exposure … in looking at all of these … Galena will best serve the city long-term,” he said.
Staff also presented the conceptual level design of both location options. While the designs overall were well received by council members, the images weren’t “detailed” enough for council to feel comfortable committing to any one location — especially the Galena option, which maximizes its square-foot capacity.
Council member Adam Frisch, who is in favor of the Galena location, expressed this as his primary concern with the Galena option.
Mentioning that the Galena building happened to be his “least favorite option six to eight months ago,” Frisch said he was comforted by the staff’s images presented, but still asked Wheeler what this building will look like to somebody walking down Main Street or hanging out downtown.
A better answer and visual to this question will follow at the city’s next Civil Relocation Project meeting, in which staff will present more elaborate depictions of these buildings per the council’s request.
This meeting, scheduled for Aug. 3, also will further discussion of potentially relocating Aspen’s Police Department to 540 E. Main St., also known as the Zupancis property.
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