Aspen City Council muzzles Golden Horn proposal |

Aspen City Council muzzles Golden Horn proposal

Erica Robbie
The Aspen Times

The Aspen City Council on Monday unanimously denied an easement request as part of a remodeling and expansion project proposed by the new ownership of the Golden Horn Building.

The easement, proposed by Aspen Golden Horn LLC through Charles Cunniffe Architects, requested to “reconstruct and expand the existing building,” according to a memorandum from Deputy Planning Director Jennifer Phelan to the council.

One of the council’s chief concerns with the Golden Horn Building is its encroachment into public right-of-way space.

While the building has encroached into public space since it was constructed in the late 1950s, an ADA-approved ramp that was added in more recent years has expanded the encroachment.

Cunniffe and Golden Horn owner Benjamin Nazarian’s proposed renovation would reduce the building’s current encroachments “by about 20 percent,” Nazarian said.

Much of the reduced encroachment would come at the removal of the ramp, which Nazarian said is “horrible and not practical in winter, … thereby defeating the purpose.” Instead, Nazarian said he wanted to add an elevator to the building, along with other expansion and renovation plans.

Nazarian, who purchased the building in early February, argued that the current space is a “poor reflection on Aspen itself, … a sore site that is old, tired and just ugly.” He said his new design “addresses (the building’s) flaws,” and will create an option that is more “beautiful, modern, viable,” and will better serve existing tenants.

But Mayor Steve Skadron said one person’s old, tired and ugly building is another person’s charming, historic and quaint structure.

Along the same lines, Councilman Adam Frisch mentioned the importance of “familiarity” to the city of Aspen, and said it is probably the No. 1 land-use decision-making code that the community makes.

Councilwoman Ann Mullins pointed out the difference between encroaching right of way space today versus in 1958 with respect to economic changes.

“The idea of privatization of public space is becoming more and more of a threat as the economy becomes more unpredictable,” Mullins said, adding that “we don’t have a lot of public space.”