Ban forces Hunt to unveil plans for Conoco space |

Ban forces Hunt to unveil plans for Conoco space

Jeremy Wallace/The Aspen Times

It took an unexpected development ban for Mark Hunt to submit a land-use application Tuesday for his Conoco service station space, which he plans to demolish and replace with a commercial building.

Hunt's application suggests the property also will include a dining spot with "outdoor restaurant seating and landscaping" intended to "vitalize the corner."

The proposal, submitted Tuesday by the upstart planning firm BendonAdams — run by former Community Development Department Director Chris Bendon and senior planner Sara Adams — won't be derailed by the City Council's moratorium.

That's because it was filed before the City Council passed its emergency legislation Tuesday that halts the filing of land-use applications in a number of commercial districts, including at 232 E. Main St., where the Conoco station is located.

The development freeze took effect 5 p.m. Tuesday. Hunt and Adams could not be reached for immediate comment Wednesday.

Hunt originally had planned to build what was called Base2 Lodge at the location, which is in the mixed-use zone district and Main Street Historic District.

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The City Council approved Base2 in June, granting it multiple variances. But a citizen petition forced the City Council to either rescind their approval or refer it to voters. The council opted for the latter, and Aspen's electorate defeated the lodge by a 2-1 margin in the November elections.

Hunt's application doesn't seek variances that would force it to a public vote because of Referendum 1, which Aspen voters approved in May. The referendum stripped the council's power to grant variances on height, mass, parking and affordable housing without a public vote.

The Main Street land-use application by Hunt, who has invested more than $100 million in downtown commercial properties in the past few years, calls for a two-level building with no basement space. The front of the property would be one story, and the back area toward the alley would be two levels. The building would be broken into two gable modules, with heights ranging from 18 feet, 10 inches to 20 feet, 3 inches — below the 28-foot limit for the mixed-use zone district.

"The applicant has developed a new concept for the property: a 100 percent commercial building that is well below the height limit, incorporates lively outdoor space to energize Main Street and redefines the street corner," the application states.

The land-use code, according to the application, requires 3.8 parking spots on the development. Hunt, however, plans to pay the city $30,000 per space in lieu of creating those spaces.

The city's Historic Preservation Commission will get the first look at the project because it is located in the Main Street Historic District. The Conoco building, however, was built in 1970 and is not part of the city's historic inventory.

"The existing development, a gas station, does not have historic significance and does not contribute to the integrity of the Main Street Historic District," the application states.

Hunt bought the property, which has a land size of nearly 6,000 square feet, for $6 million in June 2014.