Aspen Power Plant unveils lease proposal
Organizers of the Aspen Power Plant project on Monday revealed the lease conditions they are seeking from their landlord, the Aspen city government. Proposed terms of the lease include having a sound-management system, operating until 10 p.m. each day and paying $10 a year for the 65-desk generator space.
Aspen attorney Chris Bryan, who represents the Power Plant, sent the 10-page letter and proposal to City Attorney Jim True in advance of a meeting scheduled May 9 with Oklahoma Flats residents opposed to the project. The city owns the 7,200-square-foot space at 550 N. Mill St., formerly the home to the Aspen Art Museum.
“The (Aspen Power Plant) concept was formulated with one fundamental goal: to contribute to the vitality of Aspen and to activate the community in a transformative way,” Bryan wrote. “The (Aspen Power Plant) will inject vitality to the community by enriching the ethos of mind, body and spirit. By combining the energy of a co-working space with the atmosphere of an open-to-everyone cafe, along with access to multiplatform media and space, the potential for the (Power Plant) is unparalleled by anything that currently exists in the Roaring Fork Valley.”
Bryan also sent the letter to members of the Aspen media in hopes of dispelling what he said are misconceptions about the project, chiefly that it will be a party-atmosphere venue.
“The purpose of this document is to really let everybody know what’s being planned,” he said, adding the overall opposition to the project is fueled by the claim that the venue will serve as a rowdy haunt for millennials.
“If you want to tie one on, this is not the place to go,” Bryan said.
The Power Plant project includes upstairs space for the generator component, with the downstairs including the Aspen 82 television station, a business called 82 Events and a restaurant called The Watershed.
Gordon Bronson is charged with running the generator space, David Cook and Spencer McKnight will oversee the TV station and events-production company, and Aspen Brewing Co. owner Duncan Clauss will operate The Watershed.
The proposal says the generator space would be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week; The Watershed would run from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Monday through Friday, with opening hours possibly later on the weekends with the same closing time; and no more than 28 special outdoor events would be held a year. To address concerns of nearby Theatre Aspen that the Power Plant’s noise would disrupt its productions, Bryan’s proposal says outdoor special events won’t be held 30 minutes before, during and after performances.
McKnight said he recently met with Theatre Aspen officials, who seemed to be more open to the Power Plant. In April, Paige Price, executive artistic director of Theatre Aspen, emailed city officials expressing her worries that the Power Plant’s noise would be a detriment to the nonprofit’s programming.
“We’ve had really good communication with them,” McKnight said. “They still stand by their letter because they want to make sure they protect themselves. And if I were in their shoes, I’d do the same thing.”
Price could not be reached for comment Monday.
The Power Plant’s proposal says it would adhere to a 60-decibel noise limit at the property line.
The Power Plant is asking to pay $10 a year for the upstairs office space because it’s “the same annual rent that Theatre Aspen pays the city,” the proposal says. The Power Plant also is asking to pay $45 a square foot for the first floor, “which is consistent with market pricing for similarly situated properties,” the proposal says.
The proposal seeks to hatch a 10-year lease effective Oct. 1, with three five-year options to renew.
Less clear is the status of the four businesses under the umbrella of Aspen Power Plant Inc., a nonprofit. Those businesses would lease the space from Aspen Power Plant, which in turn would pay rent to the city.
The restaurant, TV station and events company are all for-profit, but a status hasn’t been determined for the generator space.
“We’re not sure how that is going to shake out,” McKnight said.
The proposal also says that the 22-space parking lot would only be open to delivery services and disabled people. It also seeks to prohibit parking on the nearby North Mill and North Spring streets as well as Gibson Avenue.
Bill Budinger, one of the neighbors who has been outspoken about the project because of the alcohol service, said in an email to the Times last week that, “A lot of people in town don’t want that beautiful city park privatized nor do they want the urban core of commercial activity expanded over the river into a residential area. We’re hoping to see the lease and business plan before the May 9 meeting with the applicants, so we and the Aspen public can react to what is being considered.”
The City Council approved the Power Plant proposal in March 2015. The council also is the final authority on the lease approval.
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