Aspen City Council moves forward with housing plans, new police department, and Galena Plaza | AspenTimes.com

Aspen City Council moves forward with housing plans, new police department, and Galena Plaza

Aspen City Council directed city staff to move forward with three future affordable-housing developments as well as the new Police Department building and Galena Plaza site for city offices during Monday night's City Council work session.

The three affordable-housing developments are located at 802 W. Main St., another at 517 Park Circle and a third at 488 Castle Creek Road.

The West Main Street property is 9,000 square feet, the Park Circle site is 14,458 square feet and the Castle Creek lot is 35,895 square feet.

Aspen's 2011 area community plan said the new housing developments "should optimize density while demonstrating compatibility with the massing, scale and character of the neighborhood."

The density of the developments was discussed during Monday's work session.

According to a memo to the council from city affordable-housing project manager Chris Everson, the West Main Street development's proposed density is eight to 12 one- and two-bedroom units, the Park Circle site proposed 10 to 13 one- and two-bedroom units and Castle Creek housing proposed 16 to 32 one- and two-bedroom units.

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All five council members seemed to agree that it was too soon to make any decisions as far as the developments' respective densities.

"I think the density is going to take some time to play out, as opposed to giving someone a ratio and saying, 'It has to be this,'" Councilman Adam Frisch said.

Frisch added that there is a balance between the project's density and neighborhood considerations.

Councilwoman Ann Mullins said that she doesn't think the city should dictate the building's density, to which the rest of the council agreed.

Mullins also said she would like to see more work done on the building's energy efficiency.

Councilman Bert Myrin's primary concern with the future developments was parking, as it "raises the ear of everyone around."

The developments' parking requirement is on site with one parking space per unit, though alternative parking solutions for each of the properties are welcome, according to the memo.

The memo also said that it might be necessary to rezone the sites.

Monday night's affordable-housing discussion follows a 2012 joint city-county housing work session whereby city staff reviewed a housing study that considered the effects of local job growth, neighborhood gentrification and retirement.

The results of the housing study indicated that 657 new affordable, employee-housing units are needed to address Aspen's urban growth boundary from 2012 to 2022.

Following the study, the city was assigned to workforce housing while the county was tasked with senior housing efforts.

Since 2012, approximately 100 affordable for-sale units have been created and occupied, the memo said.

In other Aspen City Council news, the council approved a schematic design for the Aspen Police Department building and also reaffirmed staff to proceed with the city's relocation to Galena Plaza.

The new police facility at 540 Main St. is estimated at 14,900 square feet, while the Galena Plaza is expected to be 51,900 square feet.

A few key goals of both projects include respecting the site's historic nature, producing "the best result in the smallest box" and making sure the architecture is appropriate for Aspen, as outlined in a memo to the city from Capital Asset Manager Jack Wheeler.

The building's architectural design will likely involve brick and stone, Wheeler said at Monday's meeting.

The Police Department hosted an open house Nov. 10 and is working on its public-outreach efforts, Wheeler said, adding that the project's design, scale and appearance public session received positive feedback during its public session.

According to the memo, other feedback included reducing the building's window areas and size, insulating the gap between the courthouse plaza building and Police Department and ensuring the project is a leader in environmental efficiency.

The project team said they intend to address these issues in the ongoing design process.

The Police Department project is now moving into design development phase, and a general contractor and commissioning agent will soon join the team to assist with its design criteria, cost containment and community impacts.

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