Aspen Mountain’s west side readying for its facelift

Demolition set to start on historic house to make way for Dolinsek Gardens and first part of a years-long redevelopment of Aspen Mountain’s Lift One area

Later this month, the Dolinsek family home will be demolished to make way for the new “Lift One Corridor” skiway project on Aspen Mountain in Aspen on Friday, Nov. 12, 2021. (Kelsey Brunner/The Aspen Times)

The first piece of the complex redevelopment puzzle of the west side of Aspen Mountain begins this month with the demolition of the Dolinsek family home, which sits on property that will be transformed into a community garden and park.

The public park will abut a new skiway known as the Lift One Corridor and is part of 320,000 square feet of commercial development, including two lodging projects that Aspen voters narrowly approved in March 2019.

The Dolinsek Gardens will be developed separate from the Lift One project, said Mike Tunte, the city’s landscape architect and construction manager.

The city’s parks and open space department this past Tuesday received approval from Aspen City Council to enter into a contract with Stutsman Gerbaz Inc. to demolish the Dolinsek single-family home, garage and driveway (which is located at 619 S. Monarch St.).

The Dolinsek family, which played a role in developing some of the first ski runs on Aspen Mountain and helped establish the Aspen Ski Club, owned the half-acre plot at the base of Aspen Mountain for 125 years.

In 2014, brother and sister John and Josephine Dolinsek sold the property to the city for $2.1 million with the stipulation that it become open space, and that the siblings were able to live out their lives on the lot, which sits adjacent to the city-owned Lift 1A and Willoughby parks.

John died in 2016 and Josephine passed away in 2020, making way for the city to begin its plans to carry out the Dolinseks’ vision and legacy.

“It’s really amazing,” Tunte said. “The more I’ve gotten into the project I’m in awe of the family … it will be one green ribbon coming into town and designed and envisioned as a place to get away from a built environment. It’s really a green gem in what will be an otherwise rapidly developed space.”

Demolition of the 2,600-square-foot, single-story house with a full basement and a 2,100-square-foot garage is anticipated to begin in the next three weeks and the work will be completed in January.

Tunte said the city’s parks and open space departments will work on design and construction plans this winter and be ready for construction this spring.

Final landscape plans and design will be reviewed over the winter by the Dolinsek family, the Aspen Valley Land Trust — to ensure alignment with the conservation easement on the property — and by the city’s open space and trails board.

“It will work as a public park fully functional by the end of the summer,” Tunte said, adding that all of the work will be done in-house and the project is estimated to cost $500,000.

That is outside of the $111,835 demolition contract with Stutsman Gerbaz, Inc.

Accessed off Monarch Street, the old Douglas firs and Aspen trees will remain on the property, which will be transformed into contemplative green space with pathways and gardens.

“It is a nod to the family legacy,” Tunte said. “The Dolinsek family were a very down-to-Earth family and our garden will reflect that.”

The back third of the property will be used as part of the skiway for the Lift One Corridor, which allows for return skiing served by a new telemix chairlift that will be located on Dean Street.

Tunte said the Dolinsek Gardens will be built independent of the Lift One project.

That project includes an 81-room Gorsuch Haus hotel and a 107,000-square-foot Lift One Lodge, which includes hotels rooms, fractional units and whole-ownership residences.

The city allocated $4.36 million to help pay for public facing elements of the project, including improvements to Dean Street and the relocation of the Skiers Chalet Lodge, where a ski history museum and skier services will be located.

Also involved in the project are the Aspen Historical Society and Aspen Skiing Co.

All five interests — the historical society, Skico, the city, and developers behind the Gorsuch Haus and Lift One Lodge — continue to work on perfecting their land use entitlements, according to Jen Phelan, the city’s development manager for the project.

The final land use applications for Gorsuch Haus and Lift One Lodge were conditionally approved by the city’s historic preservation and planning and zoning commissions in December, with reviews that primarily focused on building materials and landscaping.

With final land use approvals granted, development orders were issued and a five-year vesting period began on Dec. 24, 2020.

To perfect their entitlements both applicants are required to submit final plats, development agreements, easement agreements and maintenance agreements with the city.

Gorsuch Haus draft plats and agreements were recorded in July, according to Phelan.

Lift One Lodge developers also have submitted their draft documents to the city and the application was deemed complete in July.

Due to the complexity of the projects, developers are targeting to record their required construction documents in the first quarter of 2022, according to Phelan.

Developers have said in the past they anticipate that construction will begin in 2023.