Businesses blast ‘Blue Vic’ alley | AspenTimes.com
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Businesses blast ‘Blue Vic’ alley

Chad Abraham

The owners of two businesses on Mill Street said Thursday they will terminate their leases if an alley is constructed next to their building.The proposed alley would lead to an underground parking garage for workers in the Jerome Professional Building and another office building still to be constructed. The Aspen City Council approved developer Tim Semrau’s “Blue Vic” plans in March.Neighbors condemned the alley, in a residential area between Monarch, Bleeker and Mill streets. But representatives of adjacent businesses never got a chance to speak out, said Mark Joseph, a principal of the design firm LitesNow.He blamed the management of his building, at 225 N. Mill St., for remaining too quiet.”We could have gotten involved. We were told we didn’t have to,” Joseph said.His office and those of several of his colleagues look out on the grassy pathway slated for the alley. Most of the space is overgrown with bushes and aspen trees.”They’ll pave this entire deal and take out all these trees,” Joseph said.Most worrisome, however, is hundreds of vehicles traveling in and out of the parking garage right next to workers’ windows, he added.”Most buildings that line an alleyway have brick walls,” Joseph said.Joseph and the other tenants were aware of the potential alley when they signed leases – “But we were told it would never be developed,” he said.Semrau said he made repeated attempts to contact the building owner.”He would never return a phone call or talk to me,” he said. “They got all the notices over many, many months. There were six different hearings. There was full disclosure and nobody said a word back then.”Noise pollution from vehicles will bounce off a concrete wall on the alley’s other side and into their windows, Joseph predicted.In a letter to the City Council, he wrote that “the noise from cars passing down the alley will be deafening.”Marilyn Foss, president of Mountain Mortgage Inc., agreed. She talks to customers on the phone “all day long,” except when the decibel level rises from everyday activities.”When they’re doing any kind of yard work out here, it’s so loud I have to [tell] customers, ‘I’ll call you back in an hour,'” Foss said. With an alley, “I would move. It’s bad enough now.” She’s been in the building for about eight years.Joseph said he will demand to be released from his lease, a decision he regrets because his business moved in less than two years ago.The alley “is going to ruin our ‘peaceful enjoyment,'” he said. “Basically that’s how we can get out of our lease: There’s a ‘peaceful enjoyment'” clause in the agreement.Another problem is dump trucks using the alley for up to two years during construction, Joseph said.”This is a major development,” he said.His letter says the council’s decision has “instantly” crippled the building’s value. It urges council members “to do everything in your power to stop this planned alley.”Chad Abraham’s e-mail address is chad@aspentimes.com


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