Aspen Planning & Zoning Commission continues delay of Hotel Lenado redevelopment
October 21, 2015
Architect Steev Wilson told Aspen's Planning and Zoning Commission on Tuesday that he wants more specific criteria before the next review of the Hotel Lenado project.
Wilson, who is representing the group that hopes to redevelop Hotel Lenado, wants clarity because he said commissioners have expressed similar concerns about the project in previous meetings.
Developers propose to redevelop Hotel Lenado into a mixed-use building containing lodging, affordable housing and free-market residential uses. The project meets zoning requirements and has no variances, though it is does have a requested height increase that would fall within zoning regulations, city senior planner Sara Adams said.
Wilson, on behalf of the project's applicant, DCBD2 LLC, said the group has made "a herculean effort … to cure the ailments that staff specifically pointed out" in the last project meeting.
Staff and commissioners have raised issues relating to the building's height and mass as well as whether the structure would fit in with the neighborhood.
Located at 200 S. Aspen St., the property is significantly sloped in two directions — along Aspen Street and Hopkins Avenue — which creates a challenging project site, according to a memo to the Planning and Zoning Commission from Adams.
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In the mixed-use zone district, height is restricted to 28 feet, however height may be increased to 32 feet if the applicant meets specific criteria that can be justified before the commission, which has the option to either accept or deny the request.
While the majority of the proposed structure does fall within the mixed-use zone's 28-foot limitation, the applicants are requesting a 32-foot increase in one or two areas.
Commissioners were most concerned Tuesday with the height increase request and the building's appearance as it fits in with the neighborhood. Wilson said it was "extremely frustrating" to hear.
"At the end of the last meeting, I said to myself, 'I just don't know how I'm going to do this,'" Wilson said, adding that he "would like really, like very specific criteria" before the next public hearing.
While the commission commended the applicant for the project's "night and day" improvements made from its original proposed structure, Commissioner Skippy Mesirow, who led Tuesday's meeting in the absence of the chair and vice chair, said, "Just because you start with something significantly out of context and come back with something significantly better" doesn't mean it is necessarily sufficient.
"Many applications do go through on the first term," Mesirow said. "But it's not uncommon for applicants to come to the commission two or three times."
However, Mesirow said that in the six months he's served on the commission, this will be the first project he's seen that is seeking approval for a fourth time.
Mesirow told Wilson he understands his frustration and advised him on how to give the project a better chance for approval. If all of the height comes in below 28 feet and more work is done to the design on the Hopkins side — where the commission raised concern of the building fitting in with its surrounding neighborhood — Mesirow said he thought Wilson could find consent at the next meeting, adding that he couldn't speak for the two commissioners absent from Tuesday's meeting.
The next Planning and Zoning Commission meeting that will look at Hotel Lenado will likely be scheduled for Nov. 17, Mesirow said.