Boomerang Lodge proposal bounces back to City Council
The public weighed in on the proposed redevelopment of the Boomerang Lodge at Monday night’s City Council meeting.Does the community support it or oppose it?As one neighbor, who supports the project, put it: It all depends on whose ox is getting gored.Opponents, mostly from the neighboring Christiana Lodge, objected to the height and mass of the proposed development, saying it would grow from an existing 800-pound gorilla to a 1,760-pound gorilla clogging the residential area. They also claimed the number of new rooms (roughly 20, depending on how lockoffs are rented) isn’t significantly larger than the current lodge and that the proposal is consistent neither with the surrounding community nor the Aspen Area Community Plan. Still, some Christiana residents wrote letters of support for the project, and other Boomerang neighbors turned out to express approval for the plan.Council members and supporters of the project appreciated the applicant’s efforts to respect the historic value of the east wing of the lodge, designed by former Boomerang owner Charlie Paterson, who studied under Frank Lloyd Wright. They also commended the effort to preserve the majority of the trees on site and to increase the number of affordable lodge beds in town. Owners would also attempt to preserve nostalgic amenities, which Councilwoman Rachel Richards described as “very James Bond.”The biggest source of confusion, however, came over how the new rooms would be operated.As the proposal stands, the new Boomerang would include six for-sale, free-market units, which complies with the city’s maximum of 25 percent free-market units in a lodge redevelopment.The remaining units, however, would be sold as free-market condominiums.”In a certain sense, it’s all a free-market project,” Councilman Jack Johnson said.Not so, said Sunny Vann, the local planner representing the lodge’s owner.As Vann explained it, codes for condominiumization of the lodge units restrict the number of days an owner can occupy the room. Owners are limited to 30 consecutive days in the room and are capped at a total of 90 days per year.Vann told the council that a lodge owner seeking to redevelop can consider three ways of financing the non-free-market rooms: fractional ownership, traditional nightly rentals or condominiumization.Fractionals have become unpopular in the current development atmosphere, and, Vann said, the owners cannot finance the project with traditional nightly rentals. Although this is the first condominiumized project the council has seen under new lodge-incentive codes, Vann said a number of similar projects in town operate successfully drawing short-term renters.Ultimately, it was too much for council members to digest in one night. The council voted to continue the public hearing to Aug. 14.Abigail Eagye’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org
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