Aspen planners advise denying Gorsuch Haus |

Aspen planners advise denying Gorsuch Haus

The revised design of the Gorsuch Haus hotel shows how an "elbow" in the lower left of the project was removed to open access to the loading area of Lift 1A.
Design Workshop/courtesy image |

The city of Aspen planning department is advising the Planning and Zoning Commission to recommend denial of the Gorsuch Haus hotel proposal.

A memo written by Deputy Planning Director Jennifer Phelan said there are still problems with the application for the 67-room hotel even after modifications by the owners, Norway Island LLC. The hotel is proposed on the lower ski slopes at the western base of Aspen Mountain, engulfing the area where Lift 1A is located.

“Although there has been some change to the site plan, more work is needed,” Phelan wrote in her memo released Thursday evening. “Staff finds the current site plan and design of the building to be incompatible with the neighborhood as it proposes a building with dimensions that overwhelm the neighborhood, is incompatible with adjacent zone district dimensions and continues to limit the skier access to and around the site.”

The planning commission makes advisory votes to the Aspen City Council. Even if the commission follows the planning staff’s lead and recommends denial, the proposal still advances to the council for review, if so desired by the applicant.

Phelan said one review standard used by the planning department is that projects must be compatible with or enhance the cohesiveness or distinctive identity of its neighborhood and surrounding development patterns. Gorsuch Haus fails to meet that standard, she wrote.

“The goal of achieving a sense of human scale is not achieved as the building stretches some 330 feet in length and 90 feet in elevation up the hillside with heights that exceed surrounding zone district allowances,” the staff memo said.

Phelan said that although the Gorsuch team has modified its plan, there has been “very little change to the proposed building’s size and height.”

Norway Island’s proposal is for 67 hotel units, six free-market residential units, one affordable-housing residence, a meeting room, spa, fitness room, and 6,810 square feet of commercial space for a restaurant, Aspen Skiing Co. operations and retail.

The structure would have a floor area of 70,134 square feet and 127,525 square feet of gross area.

The location of a replacement for Lift 1A also continues to be an Achilles’ heel for the project.

“Although the ski lift has been moved a bit lower on the site plan it is still 66 feet from its current location,” the planning staff memo said. “Add to that the walk up the stairs to get from the cul-de-sac to the original queing area and one has a longer walk.”

The planning department gave the Gorsuch team credit for modifying the design to make the replacement lift more accessible, but remained critical of the design as it relates to the lift.

“The 1997 Aspen Mountain Master Plan, developed by Aspen Skiing Co., anticipated replacement of the Shadow Mountain Lift (1A) with a completely different location for the bottom terminal but also recognized that if the new location did not happen, the lift would be rebuilt at its current lower terminal,’” the memo stated.

The Planning and Zoning Commission will review the project at 4:30 p.m. on Tuesday in the basement of City Hall.

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