Aspen council takes up contract for Wheeler renovations |

Aspen council takes up contract for Wheeler renovations

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Janet Urquhart/The Aspen TimesThe city of Aspen is considering $2 million in renovations to its Wheeler Opera House.

ASPEN – The Aspen City Council is expected Monday to consider a construction contract which, if approved, will allow the city to begin its $2 million renovation of the Wheeler Opera House.

The contract would give Aspen Constructors Inc., which assisted with design services for the project, the roles of construction manager and general contractor. The company was chosen through a competitive bidding process, according to a May 3 memorandum from Steve Bossart, the city’s capital asset project manager, to council members.

Bossart recommended the council approve the nearly $2 million contract with Aspen Constructors as soon as possible so that the work can be completed in time for next ski season.

“Postponement would increase alternate office rental expense and eliminate rental revenues on the restaurant and retail spaces during most if not all of the 2011-2012 winter season,” he wrote.

The project calls for a remodel of the Wheeler’s basement offices and commercial spaces. An upgrade of the kitchen in the restaurant space currently occupied by Bentley’s is planned. New plumbing and electrical systems also are part of the project scenario.

Officials want to start demolition work on the basement walls before the start of summer tourism season. Bentley’s closes in July and will not return to the space once the work is finished late this year.

In late March, following a lengthy and sometimes intense evaluation process involving eight applicants, the council voted to give the restaurant-space lease to a group called Fiercely Local, whose owners operate The Cheese Shop on East Hopkins Avenue. Michele Kiley and Marco Cingolani have said they plan to close The Cheese Shop to concentrate fully on their new bar-and-restaurant operation in the Wheeler.

Bossart wrote in his memo that the city has a strong project team made up of Aspen Contractors, Wheeler staff and Capital Asset Department staff and is poised to immediately move forward.

“The target completion date for the work is late November 2011 to allow the tenants and the Wheeler staff time to move and open for the holidays,” he said. “The schedule is challenging, working within the central core, through tight reserved entertainment programs, and Food and Wine.”

He said the time it took to select a restaurant operator “added some time, but we feel we’re back on track.”

The council’s regular meeting will start at 5 p.m. in council chambers in the basement of City Hall, 130 S. Galena St.

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