Aspen files complaint in court over access to Hopkins Avenue building |

Aspen files complaint in court over access to Hopkins Avenue building

Andre Salvail
The Aspen Times

The city of Aspen on Tuesday filed an official complaint in Pitkin County District Court against the penthouse owners and the developer of the three-story 308 E. Hopkins Ave. building, alleging that renters of affordable-housing units in the building are being barred illegally from using the front entrance, east stairway and main elevator.

The complaint lists as defendants Michael Sedoy and Natalia Shvachko, a couple that owns the free-market unit on the second and third floor of the building; and JW Ventures LLC, the building owner, which received city approval in 2007 to redevelop the property. JW Ventures sold the free-market unit to Sedoy and Shvachko in 2011.

According to the complaint, JW Ventures continues to own and lease other units in the building, including commercial spaces operated by the Ute City and Syzygy restaurants, as well as three affordable-housing units for tenants who qualified through the joint city-county Aspen-Pitkin County Housing Authority.

In 2009, the complaint states that JW Ventures was issued a building permit from the city for its construction plan and as part of that permit, was necessary to meet accessibility and Americans with Disabilities Act requirements of the International Building Code.

When Sedoy and Shvachko obtained title to their property in 2011 from JW Ventures, however, the deed excluded “various encumbrances and restrictions, including the ‘terms, conditions, provisions, agreements and obligations’ specified by the city ordinance and subdivision agreement that allowed the developer to pursue its plans, the complaint says.

The building had been constructed, the complaint says, “with access to all units of the building provided through the front entrances to the building having access to East Hopkins Street and the public sidewalk.” This included access by stairs and elevator to the restaurant on the basement level (Syzygy) and to the affordable-housing units on the second level, according to the complaint.

Sedoy and Shvachko, the complaint reads, “have assumed control” of the front entrance, east stairway and elevator of the building and have denied use to the affordable-housing tenants and to Syzygy.

“The only access left to (the affordable-housing tenants and their guests) is from the alley behind the building and into the west stairway, an access which is the service entry (for the restaurants), adjacent to the service-trash utility area serving the building, and which is not accessible under the International Building Code and accessibility policy,” the complaint states.

The complaint asks the court for a declaratory judgment and injunctive relief that would compel the defendants to restore access to the rental units and the restaurant.

Aspen attorney Matt Ferguson, who reportedly represented Shvachko and Sedoy late last year, was not available for comment late Tuesday afternoon.