Bury the monster hotel!

Dear Editor:Let’s bury the monster hotel that money-hungry developers are trying to foist on South Aspen Street. It’s clearly too big. At 65 feet, it will be 130 percent higher than current code and 50 percent taller than even the proposed code allows. Its sheer mass is outrageously out of proportion to anything in the neighborhood. A year ago, the P&Z wisely rejected the project. Now, after 12 months, the developer is back – with the same project.Changes in height and mass have been – to put it mildly – exquisitely trivial. What a waste of everyone’s time! Would it be churlish to suggest that the developers saw an advantage in waiting for a more lenient code to get closer to implementation?Now is the time for this “monster” to really be buried. Literally – or figuratively. If the developers were not obsessed by greed, they would dig deeper. The new Hyatt just going up took that route; though large, it’s surprisingly unobtrusive. But not the proposed Lodge at Aspen Mountain. Oh, no. Instead, the developers have found ways of making it taller and more massive than necessary. Examples: double height ceilings for their above-grade bulk storage pantry and kitchen; a double height penthouse on top that they hope to sell for millions. Sadly, few of Aspen’s citizens are aware of the behemoth to be foisted on their town, since the crafty developers have resisted erecting story poles.What a shame. Fortunately there is a solution, albeit one that the developers have thus far ignored. Putting more of the project underground and eliminating unneeded double height ceilings would solve many of the neighborhood’s problems with height and mass. But digging deeper would reduce the developer’s profits. So they are trying to convince P&Z that they deserve huge variances from the not-yet-approved code. But wait, PUDs must conform to the Aspen Community Plan. This project doesn’t even come close.According to the AACP, PUDs are supposed to strengthen local ownership of businesses, but this hotel will be operated by an out-of-town luxury chain. It will suck business from locally owned lodging. Some believe it will replace lodging beds lost, but those beds were low and moderately priced. This deluxe monster is designed to serve none but the jet set. PUDs are expected to mitigate traffic; this one will exacerbate traffic on a steep and already dangerous-in-winter street. PUDs should facilitate social interaction and lifestyle diversity within the community; there’s no way this one will. PUDs should create a housing environment in which affordable units are integrated into the existing community; this one doesn’t even try! The P&Z can’t force a developer to bury some of the height and mass of this project. They can, however, “bury” conceptual approval until the developer does so! This monster must be buried – one way or the other!Alexander BielAspen


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