Aspen Walk residences eyed for east side |

Aspen Walk residences eyed for east side

Carolyn SackariasonThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado

ASPEN A proposal to demolish and rebuild two ramshackle structures that have been home to local workers for decades in Aspens east end has entered the public approval process.The project known as Aspen Walk combines two buildings the Park Avenue Apartments at 404 Park Ave. and the Smuggler Mountain Apartments at 414 Park Circle. The project this week went in front of the Aspen Planning and Zoning Commission for the first time. It was the first public review in what could take up to 12 months for final approval.The proposal calls for the owners of the Park Avenue building to acquire the structure next door, which is owned by the Aspen/Pitkin County Housing Authority.The proposal is to develop the properties into one complex that would include a subgrade, 53-space parking garage, 25 for-sale affordable units and 14 free-market condominiums. Both buildings currently house 25 apartments, 11 of which are affordable rental units geared toward low-income residents. The other 14 are free-market units.The owners of the Park Avenue Apartments, Minnesota-based Aspen Walk LLC, also would give the housing authority $750,000. That money would likely be used to subsidize the new for-sale units so they can be occupied by Category 1 residents, who cant make more than $32,000 a year, said housing authority Executive Director Tom McCabe.The displaced Smuggler Mountain Apartments tenants will have the first right of refusal to buy the new units. They currently are on month-to-month leases.McCabe added that the housing authority, which acquired the Smuggler Mountain Apartments from Pitkin County several years ago, was able to partner with Aspen Walk LLC in an effort to rebuild a decrepit property.Twenty-five units is a heck of a deal for zero dollars out of anyones pocket, McCabe said.The costs will fall on the developers, who last summer paid $12.6 million for the Park Avenue property.Stan Clauson, the land-use planner for the owners, said this is the first project that requires 100 percent replacement of affordable housing on residential development after the citys building moratorium. Before the moratorium, the land-use code required only 50 percent replacement.That is one of the reasons the five-story building is the size it is, Clauson added.Our position is that the size of the project is driven by the land-use code and the 100 percent employee housing requirement, he said, adding the other option was to pay a hefty payment in lieu fee. We thought it was better to build the affordable housing.A few neighbors spoke in opposition of the project at the P&Z meeting, arguing it was too tall and its mass too large. However, they did say they agree the aging buildings need to be redeveloped.P&Z member Jim DeFrancia said the proposed buildings highest point is 43 feet tall and the developers are asking for more floor area to develop than what is allowed. The current limit on height in the residential area is 32 feet.City planners have recommended that developers substantially revise their plans prior to moving onto the City Council for approval.Above the subterranean parking garage, which would be accessed off Park Circle, would be a garden level containing four free-market units and parking for the affordable housing. The third level would contain five free-market units and eight affordable, employee units. The fourth level contains five free-market units and eight employee units. The fifth floor would have nine employee units.The P&Z Commission will hear the proposal again May

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