Aspen Historic Preservation Commission makes decisions on Hunt properties | AspenTimes.com

Aspen Historic Preservation Commission makes decisions on Hunt properties

While one Mark Hunt owned building is one step closer to being demolished, talk of demolition is off the table for two Hunt spaces following a Historic Preservation Commission meeting Wednesday night.

In a 3-2 vote, the Historic Preservation Commission approved major development, conceptual commercial-design review and viewplane review of the Bidwell building.

The 15,000-square-foot building on 434 E. Cooper Ave. houses Kemo Sabe, Ryno's Pies & Pints restaurant and a few other local businesses.

Hunt, represented by Haas Land Planning and Camburas & Theodore, Ltd., proposes to demolish the building and construct a new space on the property, according to a memo to the Historic Preservation Commission from historic preservation officer Amy Simon and planner technician Sara Nadolny.

Hunt's proposed building is a consistent 28-foot-tall structure across three lots, which city staff feels is consistent with the Victorian development patterns and adjacent buildings, such as the Aspen Block.

Preservation commission members Bob Blaich, John Whipple and chair Willis Pember voted yes to further Hunt's proposed ideas.

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"It fits the pattern of Aspen's commercial development," Pember said.

Historic Preservation Commission member Gretchen Greenwood spoke most openly against the proposed structure.

"To me, the building is so far off from that I can't even think about details," Greenwood said.

Greenwood identified the building's size, scale and mass as one of her biggest issues with Hunt's proposed building.

"This is a large building in a small downtown. It's too large for the block, and it just overwhelms the corner," Greenwood said.

Greenwood said the building also appeared far too urban for Aspen, and that she would rather see it separated into multiple stores.

"It looks like one large urban building, and there is a change in the downtown experience with this," she said. Greenwood also asked whether the building "enhances or distracts from Aspen's historic preservation?"

Greenwood said the proposed structure takes away from Aspen's historic buildings, and that it is not the direction she feels is best for the community.

Hunt said he would agree with Greenwood "if the building were located mid-block," but that a corner building is significantly different.

"Buildings that hold the corner are significant," Hunt said, adding that he thinks it would be a lost opportunity to make the structure appear as three buildings.

Hunt also said that his proposed building is smaller than the current building and also is smaller than the one next to it.

"We're showing you a blown up picture of a building that's just not that big," Hunt said.

In a 3-1 vote, the Historic Preservation Commission also approved major development, conceptual commercial design review and viewplane review of the 6,000-square-foot lot on Mill Street where the Popcorn Wagon, Grey Lady and Jimmy's Bodega are located.

While Hunt's initial plans for the property involved possible demolition of the Grey Lady and Jimmy's Bodega as well as relocating the Popcorn Wagon, he now wants to make an extensive remodel of the property instead.

Commission member Michael Brown was the dissenting vote on the Mill Street decision as well as on the Cooper Street property, along with Goodman.

The Historic Preservation Commission will submit both cases to the City Council, which has the option to either call up the issue or let it stand, Simon said. "Then it goes to the (Historic Preservation Commission) for final approval."

While neither the Bidwell building nor the buildings on Mill Street are designated historic, they are located in Aspen's Commercial Core Historic District, and therefore development requires Historic Preservation Commission review.

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