Boomerang Lodge representatives withdraw latest application
October 21, 2014
Boomerang Lodge representatives have withdrawn their latest redevelopment application, adding to a long list of false starts and failed attempts to flip a property that has sat mostly dormant since 2007, when the Great Recession hit.
With the latest proposal quashed by the Planning and Zoning Commission in August, local partner Steve Stunda said Monday that the plan is to move forward with approvals from 2006, though he didn't rule out entertaining offers to buy the property.
Aspen senior planner Sara Adams recommended denial on Aug. 12 because the 41,300-square-foot development proposed at 500 W. Hopkins Ave. consisted of too much free-market-residential space and not enough lodging. It called for 37 percent lodging and 54 percent free-market, or 54 lodge units and 14 free-market units. Approvals from 2006 call for 66 percent lodging and 30 percent free-market, totaling 47 lodge units and five free-market units.
Stunda, who is backing the project with partner Alex Brown Realty, of Baltimore, said plans were withdrawn Thursday after it was decided the latest project was not worth pursuing based on pushback from the Planning Department and neighbors.
"To start this process and subject it to the scrutiny was a risk I thought was unnecessary," Stunda said Monday.
Stunda added that defeat of the city's lodge-incentive program also influenced the decision.
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The council originally passed the lodging ordinance — which would allow four-story lodges near Aspen Mountain, larger free-market residences, fee waivers and decreased affordable-housing requirements, among other incentives for developers — by a 3-2 margin on Aug. 11. Shortly after, Aspen attorneys Bert Myrin and Cavanaugh O'Leary launched a petition to bring the issue to voters, garnering about 500 of the 641 required signatures in a 48-hour period. The council then repealed the ordinance in late August, with the Community Development Department vowing to continue working through the issues.
Neighbor Steve Goldenberg, who lives at 430 W. Hopkins Ave., opposed the latest plans and said Monday that the neighborhood has no major issues with what was approved in 2006.
That year, part of the building was demolished to make way for the redevelopment, but finances fell through during the recession and activity didn't pick up until 2011, when the council approved plans to build an affordable-housing complex at the site. But the 40-unit project was halted when neighbors filed a lawsuit seeking reversal on the council decision to build the affordable-housing complex. Pitkin County District Judge Gail Nichols ruled against the neighbors, and by early 2014, the two parties had come to an agreement to end litigation.
While Stunda and his Baltimore partner are not actively looking to sell the 27,000-square-foot lot, which according to property records was bought for $13.5 million in 2005, he said that if someone makes "an offer he can't refuse," he would entertain it.
Approvals from 2006 dictate that the project must break ground by October 2015. Stunda said that if they move forward with prior approvals, construction would ideally wrap up in the spring of 2016, just before Aspen's annual Food & Wine Classic.