Aspen’s Grey Lady outdoor tent will return for the holidays
December 1, 2015
Aspen City Council will allow Grey Lady to utilize its canvas and plastic outdoor tent again this holiday season, following a decision made at Tuesday's City Council meeting.
Grey Lady restaurant owners Ryan Chadwick and Ian Perry requested a 10-day temporary-use approval to set up a tent over the site's public amenity space from Dec. 24 to Jan. 3.
The council approved the applicant's temporary-use request in a 3-2 vote, with council members Adam Frisch and Bert Myrin as the dissenting votes.
Located at the corner of the pedestrian mall and E. Hyman Avenue across the street from the Wheeler Opera House, the site falls under Aspen's historic commercial core zone district.
Tuesday's meeting marked the council's third time reviewing at the applicants' request.
In January, the City Council granted the Grey Lady owners a temporary seasonal approval for the tent that would start that same month and last until April 15.
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The council told the applicants it was a one-time approval and that they should not return to renew this request, according to a memo to the council from city planner Sara Nadolny.
Despite voting against the applicant's request, council member Adam Frisch said, "There is a sincere over-demand for seating in town at dinnertime."
During public comment, resident Peter Fornell said there are less places to sit and eat in town than there were in previous years and also more people coming to town with the desire to do so.
Fornell added, "There's no time that's worse than holidays."
In looking at the town-wide need for increased tables and seats, the council discussed whether approving the Grey Lady's request may prompt other local restaurants to come before them with similar proposals.
When one of owners of Grey Lady asked why this would be a bad thing, Mayor Steve Skadron said that Aspen has the challenge of balancing the economic interest of its business with its community character.
"Each tent that comes up and each request made is at the expense of community character," Skadron said. "It's a delicate equation to manage, but that's the big picture."
At the beginning of Tuesday's meeting, Councilwoman Ann Mullins said she was hesitant of the proposal because she felt its appearance "was really detrimental to the downtown mall experience."
By the end of the meeting, however, Mullins said she was moved by public comment
"But it better come down on (Jan. 4)," Mullins said to the Grey Lady owners, to which Art Daily and Skadron both agreed.
As part of the temporary-use approval, Skadron also told the applicants they must have the tent removed by Jan. 4 and also improve its aesthetic appearance.
Both owners agreed.
"We're happy to adorn it in any way," Chadwick said.
"We'll dress it up to give it a holiday look," Perry said.