Boomerang plan will be back
August 14, 2006
The Boomerang will be back, again.Redevelopment plans for the venerable Aspen lodge were panned yet again by the Aspen City Council on Monday. Members are still unhappy with aspects of the proposed overhaul of the Boomerang, even though the proposal fulfills the city’s requirements.The height and mass of the proposed new Boomerang are still an issue for most of the council, which sent the project’s representatives back to the drawing board last month as well.The project is due back for another review on Aug. 28.The existing Boomerang, parts of which date back more than 50 years, is currently a 34-unit lodge that takes up about 23,000 square feet on Hopkins Avenue between Fourth and Fifth streets.The new plan would retain the east wing of the old Boomerang but add a third floor to it. The rest of the property would be redeveloped to create a total of 53 lodge rooms, plus six free-market residences, two employee units and 31 underground parking spaces. Another 17 surface parking spaces would be located partially on city right of way. The project would total about 49,170 square feet. “I think what we’ve got before us is a maximization of the allowable height, density,” said Councilman Torre. “I find that the application is just a little too much for this property.”Torre also complained the addition over the east wing would compromise the historic integrity of the part of the lodge that is to be preserved.Other council members were troubled by the fact that, in addition to the six residences that will be sold, the lodge rooms themselves will be sold as condos, even though owners can use them only for limited periods. The rest of the time, they will be theoretically available as short-term accommodations.The Christiana to the north managed to redevelop, also through the condominiumized route, without the free-market residential component on top of the condo sales, noted Councilman Jack Johnson.He questioned whether the Boomerang would really operate as a short-term lodge at all, suggesting the all-sale project would lack the financial incentive to rent its rooms to tourists.The free-market residences are an incentive to redevelop small lodges, but this is the first project to propose selling the lodge units too.”It begs whether that was really the intention of the code,” said Councilwoman Rachel Richards.Mayor Helen Klanderud said she could accept the project without the addition over the east wing and noted the irony in the objections from adjacent Christiana condo owners. That property was an old lodge that was also redeveloped into a denser and taller project.While several audience members, including representatives from the Aspen Skiing Co. and the lodging industry, praised the Boomerang plan, attorney Jody Edwards, representing the Christiana homeowners, urged the council to reject it.”It’s one massive building,” he said. The existing lodge is already an 800-pound gorilla in a residential neighborhood. The proposed redevelopment “is going to be an obese gorilla,” he said.The lodge plan presented Monday cut three feet from the lodge height presented last month – down to 39 feet from 42. The tallest part of the structure would comprise about 20 percent of the total roof area.Large conifers along Hopkins Avenue will shield the building, though, and the developers intend to preserve most of them.”I would be really, really upset if somehow during construction, you damage those trees on the Hopkins side,” warned Councilman J.E. DeVilbiss.A group represented by local managing partner Steve Stunda, who currently operates the lodge, purchased the Boomerang from original owners Charlie and Fonda Paterson last year.Janet Urquhart’s e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.