Aspen to consider zoning for Given Institute
October 25, 2010
ASPEN – The Aspen City Council is expected to decide Monday whether to move forward on an emergency ordinance that would rezone the property on which the Given Institute sits to only allow academic buildings.
The ordinance, which was announced during a surprise meeting early last month, was introduced as a bargaining chip in negotiations with the property’s owner, the University of Colorado’s medical school, which plans to sell the lot at 100 E. Francis St.
The university had originally planned to demolish the iconic Aspen landmark because the buyer it was courting didn’t want the property unless the building was gone.
CU has been trying to sell the land and the building since December because it can no longer afford the operating price – which sometimes exceeded $200,000 a year – because of the school’s dwindling finances.
The university used the building to host medical conferences.
The original buyer quickly dropped the deal after city officials began a campaign to save the building, of which the emergency ordinance is a part.
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Mayor Mick Ireland said during the last-minute Sept. 8 meeting that the ordinance would give the city leverage in a three-way negotiation between the city, the university and potential buyers, whose identities were have not been disclosed by CU or the city of Aspen.
The ordinance essentially devalues the property by not allowing the owner to build a single-family home on the lot.
Dan Meyers, the CU School of Medicine’s spokesman, said when the ordinance was first introduced that the move was disappointing, noting that the university had agreed to hold off on demolishing the building until the Nov. 2 election, when the city had planned to ask voters permission to buy the property for $15 million. The City Council decided not to put that item on the ballot because council members thought the price was too high.