Aspen council gets first look at big hotel plans
A large, new hotel that would transform what has long been the quieter, less-polished portal to Aspen Mountain goes before the Aspen City Council today for what is likely to be the first of several public hearings.The conceptual plan for The Lodge at Aspen Mountain has been arduously reviewed by the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission – twice. The original proposal was withdrawn and a revised plan was revised some more before the P&Z voted 4-1 in July to recommend approval.The process has seen the multistory building reduced in height and pushed back from neighboring buildings in the process, but it’s still large – 185,400 square feet and topping 64 feet at its tallest.”It’s certainly a big building – no doubt about it,” said James Lindt, senior planner for the city.City staffers have acknowledged its size, but are nonetheless recommending the council approve the project. They noted that developers have worked to reduce the impacts of the structure on neighbors and that the site, on the west side of Aspen Street near the base of Lift 1A, is appropriate for a large hotel.”The entire property is located in the Lodge Zone District and is located at the base of the community’s premier ski mountain, which staff feels is the most appropriate location for larger lodging structures in a resort community,” the staff noted in a memo to the council.Far less appropriate, according to the staff, are the 14 free-market townhomes and 17 worker housing units that were previously approved for the site.Initial plans for the hotel were vehemently opposed by neighboring condo owners on three sides; all of those homeowner’s associations are now satisfied with what is being proposed, according to John Sarpa, a partner in Centurion Partners, the principal owner of the project. No doubt there are still individual residents who are unhappy, though, he conceded.”It’s no secret that we’ve taken an extraordinary amount of time at the P&Z level and with the neighbors. That was intentional,” he said.The result has been dramatic modifications to the building as it borders neighbors and from the view up South Aspen Street from Durant Avenue, Sarpa said.”As we come in, we’ve got a much different project,” he said.The hotel would include 84 hotel rooms; 22 fractional, three-bedroom suites to be sold in one-eighth shares; four free-market condominiums; 12 affordable housing units and 156 underground parking spaces. An outdoor swimming pool and children’s pool, fitness center and spa, 3,000-square-foot ballroom and outdoor dining/aprés ski terrace are among the amenities in the plan.Some of the required worker housing for the project is slated to be located off-site – probably at the Aspen Business Center.The hotel will require the demolition of the Mine Dump Apartments, which have long provided inexpensive digs for locals.The component of the project that skiers may most appreciate is the proposed replacement of Lift 1A with a high-speed double lift that would extend farther up the mountain to provide access to the Dump runs.If the hotel wins conceptual approval, its developers must return to the P&Z and City Council for subsequent final review and approval.Citizens who care to comment on the conceptual plan may want to bide their time until the Sept. 26 continuation of the hearing. Initial presentations to the council by the developers and the staff are likely to take up the bulk of Monday’s meeting.”The idea is to have most of the public comment come at the next meeting,” Lindt said.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is email@example.com
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