Aspen lets lumber yard stay " for now |

Aspen lets lumber yard stay " for now

John Colson
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Paul Conrad The Aspen Times

ASPEN ” The city of Aspen could be years away from developing on the BMC West property as it is preparing to extend the lease for Harbert Lumber Co. so it can stay at its current location next to the Aspen Business Center.

That is in part because the city is having to consider the possibility that the Aspen-Pitkin County Airport master-planning process might affect the city’s development plans for the former lumberyard.

Assistant City Manager Bentley Henderson said he talked with the owners of Harbert about a lease extension, which he said “will probably start at around three years.”

“Based on all the parties that are probably going to have to be involved,” Henderson said, “there is an expectation it’s probably going to take a long time.”

Among those parties, he said, are the city, the Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT), Pitkin County and ” perhaps ” the Federal Aviation Administration.

On top of that, other governmental entities ” such as the Aspen School District and the Aspen Valley Hospital District ” might want a piece of the lumberyard to satisfy their own housing needs.

As a result, Henderson said, “an extension of three years may not be outside the realm of planning considerations,” although any extension must get the approval of the City Council.

The city recently purchased the property from the Building Materials Holding Corp. (BHMC) ” the parent company of BMC West ” for $18.25 million. According to its website, BMHC made a profit of approximately $10 million on the sale.

The sale of the property came close on the heels of the sale of BMC West’s three Western Slope stores to Harbert Lumber. The other two deals, in Glenwood Springs and Steamboat Springs, included the sale of both the business and the property.

But the 4.8 acre site in Aspen did not go with the business. It was scooped up by the city after officials concluded it represented one of the last big parcels in the upper valley, close to Aspen, that might be used for affordable housing.

Henderson said the lumberyard parcel might well end up being linked, in a developmental sense, with a nearby 2-acre parcel of ground also owned by the city.

That land is located between the lumberyard and the western berm that shields the Burlingame/Music Student affordable housing complex at Highway 82 and Old Stage Road.

That land, he said, was part of the original Burlingame Ranch deal that lead to construction of the Burlingame neighborhood on the north side of Deer Hill, just west of the Maroon Creek Club golf course.

Henderson said that early estimates for the lumberyard project indicate it could accommodate as many as 100 units of affordable housing. If the adjacent 2 acres were added, he said, that could mean room for up to 150 units.

“It’s a medium density project,” he said of the concept so far, referring to the city’s early estimates.

As for the anticipated, lengthy planning process, he explained that CDOT will need to be involved in planning for the additional traffic that would be generated by the residents.

Plus, he said, Pitkin County and the FAA must be involved in anything having to do with the airport’s master plan, which could involve relocation of the passenger terminal building further east from its current site.

To date, the public revelations about the airport master plan have contained little specific information on the idea of a relocated terminal, but Henderson indicated that it is part of the broader discussions about how to fix up their airport so that it will not need another major overhaul for decades to come. The terminal redesign and reconstruction is part of a larger, $120 million plan to upgrade the entire airport facility by the year 2012.

If the terminal is relocated, Henderson said, that could mean creating a signalized intersection to the east of the main ABC traffic light, which is shared by the airport’s current entrance road. And planning for that many changes to the highway would bring all three entities ” CDOT, the FAA and the county ” to the table.

Henderson said he intended to take the matter to the city council soon, perhaps this week.

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