Bidwell project back before Aspen City Council |

Bidwell project back before Aspen City Council

Janet Urquhart
The Aspen Times
Aspen, CO Colorado
Courtesy of Rowland + Broughton Architecture and Planning

ASPEN – Cutting back on disruptive excavation work and increasing the number of employee housing units are among the latest proposals for a downtown Aspen redevelopment project that has yet to win the City Council’s blessing.

The project applicants are now embarking on a third redesign for the proposed replacement of the Mountain Plaza building, also known as the Bidwell Building, on one of the downtown core’s most prominent corners – at Galena Street and Cooper Avenue.

The project goes back before the council Monday for input after a hearing in January at which both council members and citizens said the impacts from construction at the high-profile corner would be too great.

In January, Mitch Haas, land-use planner for the project, said construction would take 30 months, with 20 of them impacting neighbors and general activity in the core the most.

Monday, the council will be asked to react to several proposals, including the elimination of a second basement level beneath the building in order to reduce the impacts associated with excavation. The move means there won’t be enough on-site parking for all of the residential units in the planned project, but the code doesn’t require parking for residences within the zone district, city staffers note.

In addition, the applicants have proposed creating a construction management plan for the project that exceeds city requirements for mitigation, according to a staff memo to the council. Construction is proposed to begin in September to capitalize on the longer offseason for demolition and excavation.

The applicants have also proposed converting one free-market residential unit and one commercial space within the planned commercial/residential building to affordable housing units. The move would give the project a mix of two free-market units, four affordable units and seven commercial spaces.

In response to neighbors’ concern about the impact of the proposed third floor of the building on the alley side, the applicants have proposed pulling the free-market unit to be located there about 6 feet in from the north edge of the building.

The new building, at a proposed 36 feet and 7 inches, is below the maximum height limit in the city’s zoning code, the memo notes.

Finally, the city staff is recommending more entryways into the commercial spaces along the building’s Galena Street side to create a better pedestrian experience.

The existing structure at the site was built in 1965 by the late Bert Bidwell. The aging building, now owned by Bidwell’s children, subjects tenants to regular mechanical failures and has been the focus of redevelopment plans for some five years. Filling in the subterranean courtyard that fronts the existing building is part of the plan.

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